Somewhere in my house is a hole. It’s not a conspicuous one, nor could I find it if pressed to do so, but I know that it must be there for there are no other places in my house where the sundry missing parts of toys and puzzles could be. Joshua has either found this hidden hidey hole and claimed it as his, or he’s going all David Copperfield on his solar system floor puzzle and vanishing pieces to a soundtrack of synth-heavy early-90s rock goodness. I’m betting on the former, but man, wouldn’t the latter be cool?
Here’s what I don’t understand. We get out a puzzle or set of letters or whatever. We play with it for a while, put it back in its box when we’re done, and then it goes back into his room. Some time between that and the next time it comes out, it has transformed from an orderly collection of puzzle pieces into a chaos box full of questions and mysteries. Why aren’t all the pieces there? Where did they go, and when did they go there? Why is there a sock there? Life with a pre-schooler is basically this. Your every effort to keep a (relatively) tidy home is countered by an anarchy engine bent on the wholesale devastation of your home’s organization and cleanliness. Toward entropy your life tilts with frightening speed and suddenness.
My mom has gotten to experience this first-hand this week while we were visiting her house. If you’ve never been to her house*, you’d know that it’s just slightly cleaner than a hospital. That she works in a hospital is, surprisingly, only a coincidence. She’d live this way even if she worked in a grist mill. Anyway, her house is spotless and a place that germs generally fear. In our few days here, Joshua managed to break one of her refrigerator magnets, spread his letters to nearly every room in the house, get poop on her carpet (yes, we are STILL potty-training), and Jack has gotten spit-up on her couch and throw pillow. Thanks for having us, Grandma!
I’m not sure when it happens that children start caring about not living like zoo animals. Obviously, 3/4 years old is not that time. Neither can your average pre-schooler reason enough to get that putting something somewhere it doesn’t belong makes it harder to find later. After all, Dad will just Find It. Jen and I briefly declared that we’d allow no more toys that had lots of pieces into our house. I think that lasted about three days because every toy ever made for pre-schoolers has no fewer than 300 parts. And when your kid’s like mine, having one missing part makes the other 299 parts useless.**
One day I’ll find his hidey-hole and reunite the 299 pieces with the 300th. Or maybe he’ll just dramatically pull back a curtain while blaring Survivor out of his Big Bird record player to reveal the missing pieces, along with the 747 and Statue of Liberty he’d also managed to disappear. Again, I’m really hoping for option B.
*I don’t know why I wrote this. No one who’ll read this has been to her house. I don’t even know most of you.
**He has a Problem.