Sunday, June 19, 2011

The business of childhood

The guest room was awash in orangey-pink light. "Sunrise never ceases to amaze me," I thought to myself as I dragged my broom past its doorway, whisking a cloud of dirt and debris from the mudroom toward the laundry area.

"What are we going to do today," she asks fretfully, and then answers herself: "Probably nothing. Again."

Saturdays around our house aren't the joyous, lazy affairs they once seemed to be. Each passing year brings with it taller children, bigger messes, larger laundry piles and fewer days of the week for restoring order and restocking closets.

"I just need to get this done," I reason, "and then we can do something fun."

She just shrugs. She's heard it all before. I can’t blame her. I don’t believe me, either.

As I bend to try and sweep a week's worth of dog hair and snack crumbs into the dustpan, I know I've barely made a dent. This will take me all day.

The phone rings. I pick it up and hear the welcome voice of another mother who's trying to find something for her kid to do so she won't have to make dolls dance and ponies talk.

Magical timing.

Ittybit is squinting at me as I tell her her day — and mine — has been saved by a last-minute play date.

When her friend arrives the two girls skip off to discuss their plans for world domination, trailed by the "Little Bother." It's an often spoken rule in our house that if there are to be play dates little brothers are to be included in all plans for world domination or they are to be given chores that will make them less likely to require intervention from the Hague.

Oh sure, there are disagreements.

Blah-blah ... "It's not fair." Blah-blah "Why doesn't he have his own play date. Blah-blah "He won't leave us alone ..."

But I find that reciting the rules to myself, above the din of any screaming, seems to work to everyone's advantage.

That and "Maybe I should just call her mother and tell her it's time to call it a play day."

Silence. "No, no. Never mind."

It's amazing how fast they figure it out for themselves.

It's also quite something to realize that together, two little minds can come up with so much more entertainment value than any of the things my mind can scrounge.

They will build cities out of sofa cushions as I vacuum under the couch. They will have picnics of finger foods they forage from the fridge on the front porch.

It takes no more than an hour before they've settled on a plan that will take them all day to execute and be of no interest to the Little Bother. When they get my approval, the pair disappears into the guest room, which also houses my office, a stash of fabric for crafting and two sewing machines.

There is quiet. Which should be the first clue for any parent of trouble. And then there are more questions:

Can we use some of this fabric?

How about this fabric?

Do you have any glue?

What about tape?

Eventually they hit an impasse and came to find me.

The same orangey-pink light from the morning is spilling out into the hallway as I approach the room. This time, however, the sun has nothing to do with it; it was the light reflecting off a sea of fabrics they'd cut up and strewn about the floor.

I didn't even have time to be annoyed when I saw what was left of the stash: Two perfectly lovely doll quilts arranged on the guest bed awaiting a few sweeps through the sewing machine.

"Can you help us sew them?" Ittybit asked. "We've got to get them finished so we can start working on the marketing campaign."


Ange said...

I really enjoyed this while listening to my children play Battleship. Thanks.

Scott said...

" she won't have to make dolls dance and ponies talk."

I love it!

And Ittybit is perhaps too smart for her own good sometimes!