My boys don’t know that every three-year-old Valentine and half-torn colouring page has the same effect on me as dumping a pail of water on the Wicked Witch of the West.
I’m melting! I’m melting!
Not literally of course, but scanning their rooms and their collections of Lego, Play Mobil and Skylanders strewn, albeit in “tidy” piles, on the floor amidst crumpled birthday party invitations, random stickers and favourite unshorn pencils all mixed together like some sort of bottom-of-the purse cornucopia induces in me an intense angst.
The heat rises. It always starts in my chest and within seconds my neck and face are engulfed. The only remedy for my anxiety is covertly ransacking their rooms, opaque garbage bag in hand like a deranged anti-Santa, snatching up all the cheap, plastic-y toys that have found their way into our home by way of take-out boxes or loot bags. Once I get started nothing is safe. I have this ability of scanning a surface and determining with speed and efficiency what is junk. Very few things escape my sticky fingers. With each toss into the bag, I feel a sense of satisfaction. I am gleeful. I am restoring balance and order to this room, my house, my life.
The toy room and craft cupboard are where I go for my biggest fix. I am an addict looking for my next high as I sort through the toys relocating Thomas the Train with his friend Spencer in the bucket clearly marked TRAINS. The brightly painted wooden tomato and fry pan are tossed back into the bucket clearly marked, you guessed it, KITCHEN. If only everyone else would follow this simple system maybe they’d be able to find that missing Lego guy instead of bursting into tears of frustration at the thought of pillaging the mash-up of toys that occupy 8 bins.
Like with the toys, I am ruthless when it comes to clothing. I keep bags at the ready, tucked at the back of closets with donation inked in permanent marker next to another bag that contains the best of my boys’ clothing, ready to continue the hand-me-down cycle.
The kitchen counter and cupboards are at their best when they are stark, barren, neatly itemized. Achieving this kundalini state is a thing of lore. My kids always want to be fed. They are always hungry. They are always in the kitchen demanding more! More! More! And all I want is to neatly group the applesauce beside the crackers.
I don’t discriminate. I am not exempt from my own wrath. I attack my own closets and collections with as much vigor and yes, accuracy.
It’s meaningful to note that I have rarely been called out, chastised, whined at or worse, hollered at, in the wake of my purges. I count only one item, a denim dress with pearl-faced buttons as a casualty, a donation made in haste. My lone regret.
If anything there is a sense of calm in our mostly chaotic home when “there is a place for everything and everything is in its place.”