I miss the cats with thumbs

I admit it–the kids sometimes drive me crazy with the clutter. I feel like the Grinch for saying this, but seriously, the drums, guitars, flutes, ukulele, wagons, trikes, tractors, bikes, chain saw, swords, dresses, paint, Play-Doh, spatulas, knives, chopsticks and the books, books, books…there’s no end in sight.

One morning Mama called me at work and said that she felt like she should just wake up, upend all of the toy bins, pick them all up, upend them again, and then pick them up again because that’s what’s going to happen anyway.

Even growing up as a Californian, which involved living through major earthquakes, didn’t prepare me for this. Probably because my Mom twisted my DNA around so that it’s genetically impossible for me to leave a room without closing all the cabinet and closet doors, just in case the big one strikes while I’m taking a leak.

The problem is compounded by the fact that our house is as big as a phone booth, and the kids and their toys aren’t getting any smaller. Jewel sleeps in our room, which means that almost any time I’m home, I can’t get into my own room, unless I’m slinking in to sleep. Over the last week, I didn’t even do that, because I had a nagging cough. So, I was out on the couch, replacing Mama, who’d been out there for two weeks before that because Jewel can smell milk-laden boobs like zombies can smell brains, which meant that when she would roll over at night, she would instantly awaken, stand at the edge of her crib and start in with the caterwauling of the undead.

All of that couch surfing meant that not only was our room–which has been taken over by the Sta-Puft Mini Marshmallow Girl–a disaster zone of clean, dirty and somewhat nebulous laundry, drifts of papers to be filed or mailed or who knows what at this point, precarious stacks of CDs, DVDs, photos and books on parenting…but also our living room was in a similar state, because it was becoming our bedroom.

And it was already the playroom, concert hall, keirin track (google it your own lazy self), fort, cave, bouncy house and so forth.

Just as babysitting is a surefire means of birth control, picking up toys is a surefire means of curbing conspicuous consumption. Because even if it’s not their toys, it’s whatever they can get their busy little hands on. It’s like living with cokehead cats with thumbs.

What’s this?

What’s that?

Where did I leave that?

Who cares?

What’s this?

What’s that?

Let me amend that: cokehead cats with thumbs…and diapers.

But I digress.

The point is that last weekend I spend about 12 straight hours picking up, organizing and trying to finish some big projects. I felt great. I filled countless bags of recycling and trash and overheated our shredder innumerable times getting rid of old files and junk mail.

And all of that got me through just about half of our bedroom. Only four and a half more rooms to go.

But I also got everything picked up enough that our cleaning lady was able to get most of the house clean, rather than just dusting the precarious stacks of CDs yet again. Yes, cleaning lady. You want to talk about that, find me on Facebook, or wait for another post about that.

So the house now is livable. I know that there are closets I shouldn’t open, and the stacks of debris atop our bedroom dressers give me hives, but it’s livable.

Except that I can’t stand being here.

Just a few minutes ago, I was marveling that the same towel I’d gotten out of the closet and hung up on the bathroom towel rack on Sunday was the same one I was using tonight, that it was still on the same rack, that it was still folded neatly, even though I had refolded and rehung it over 12 hours ago.

And then I realized that’s because there was nobody here all day to take it down and throw it in the tub full of water, use it for a bathmat or smear their paint-covered hands on it. This is the same reason why I can leave the TV remote on the arm of the couch in the morning and know that it will be there when I come home at the end of the day, and that it won’t be lost among the drums, guitars, flutes, ukulele, wagons, trikes, tractors, bikes, chain saw, swords, dresses, paint, Play-Doh, spatulas, knives, chopsticks and the books, books, books.

And then I remembered how much I miss opening the front door at the end of a day and hearing 3B sing out, “It’s the man of the hour!” (Mama has him well trained, no?) And watching Jewel turn, grin, drop what she’s chewing on, and truck on over to me as fast as she can crawl. And seeing Mama, and watching her relief that finally there’s someone to help her out (forgive her forgetfulness…every day she mistakes me for a competent parent before she remembers).

And yes, I admit it. I miss the craziness.

I’m working to make cancer history. Will you help me?

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