I forgot about this part, too.
The mess of childhood. Or toddlerhood. Or some kind of ‘hood.
Zach still isn’t really walking. He’ll take a couple of steps, then sit down–not fall–sit down. Chicken. But he crawls like a madman. His crawl is so fast that all you can see is his little butt wiggling back and forth as he fiercely moves his legs to get where he wants to go. And in a blur, he is gone. But he does walk with minimal support. And he leaves a path of destruction in his wake.
We have this little rolling storage cart that is oh-so tacky, but was my solution for baby item storage. It used to hold a slew of pumping supplies. Then it held bottles and bowls and spoons. Now it holds sippy cups and bowls and plastic baby plates. And Zach loves to push it all over the kitchen and living room. It’s hilarious to watch, because the damned thing is taller than he is, but yesterday, he made a new discovery. If he pushes the drawers/ bins from the back, they fall out on the other side. And it creates this delightful crash as sippy cups and bowls and plastic baby feeding items fall to the floor. And the mess. It makes a delightful mess of all of this brightly colored stuff: yellows and neon greens, bright blues, reds. It must be a thrill for him.
I mean it has to be, right? Because he. Keeps. Doing. It. Which means John and I spend a fair amount of time picking the stuff up and returning it to its spot. And then there is his room. The changing table used to be a place of function. The shelves were stocked with diapering needs. Now that Zach is more mobile, the shelves of it are stocked with all kinds of things: board books that a nuclear holocaust could not destroy, wooden puzzles and bead mazes, shape sorters and stacking cups. I must admit that, if I were 12 inches tall, it would look very inviting. And Zach has access to all of it.
All of it.
So the events occur like this: I crawl around on the floor, putting puzzles back together and creating piles of what piece goes with what so I can put them back together. And when I am done, his room looks awesome. A virtual toddler wonderland. And it lasts. For about 10 minutes.
Because it has become apparent that Zach does not prefer his puzzles put together. Or his ring stack. Or his nesting cups. Or his shape sorters. He does not like the bead mazes cutely displayed, thankyouverymuch. He would prefer all of the pieces to be in a jumble on the floor. And that ball chute that is as tall as he is? Well, it cannot possibly be standing, with the balls that go with safely placed in it. It must be tipped over and laying on its side. The balls can’t all be in one place. They have to roll under the changing table, the crib, the dresser, down the vent. Otherwise, Mom wouldn’t have nearly as much fun trying to find them all. I mean cleaning his room is like finding the toy in the cereal box as a child: you never know what you will find after some good ol’ digging.
The newest thing, now that he is tall enough to open the accordian doors of his closet, is to open the lids of the storage bins on the floor of his closet and pull each tiny piece of outgrown clothing from them, one by one. And so now the mess is of a hybrid variety. Teensy tiny socks small enough to fit preemie feet, newborn-sized sleepers and swaddlers, hats that he fought wearing as a little baby. Mixed in with the blocks and stacking/nesting bowls and the balls and puzzle pieces.Lovely.
I could solve the problem. I’m not stupid. I could follow him around, saying “No-no Zachy” a million and one times. I choose not to. I like that he can safely
destroy explore his surroundings. Nothing can be ruined that is within his reach. And he isn’t exloring electrical outlets or anything. (Incidentally, we now have to install the sliding outlet plates because he knows how to pull outlet covers out of the outlet!) He plays and learns, still free from the responsibility of having to pick up after himself. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But the end result is that mommy, in her typical OCD fashion, dies a little more inside when she sees the mess and realizes this is the life. And she has to let it go.
It all has triggered memories. The days are coming (or are already here). Cheerios in sofa cushions. Pots and pans and wooden spoons on the floor of the kitchen while we cook. Toy cars smack-dab in the middle of the living room floor, and virtually no decor below adult waist-level. Baby gates that don’t match the surroundings. Rubber ducks and bath toys amidst the candles and other decor in the bathroom. These are those days. I haven’t seen these days in almost 9 years.
But with these days come peals of baby giggles. Shouts of excitement when he discovers a new thing. The sight of chubby baby hands and fingers learning to manipulate the world around him. That look in his eyes when he is learning.
As my days pass in a sea of school work and actual work, the role of the perpetual picker-upper can be exhausting. But it is so worth it. I realize now that I missed these days for so very long. And it isn’t like I don’t get rewarded for the role.
I mean this morning, I came home from work to see the mess Zach made of the room I just cleaned yesterday afternoon. There were the toys and the clothes. A big heap of them. I was just about to moan and groan, to confront John about why he allowed him to do that. But there, sitting right in the middle of it all, was Zach. Smiling, happy, adorable, loving Zach. Having fun. Learning. Being.