Block­ing the way with blocks

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

It’s got­ten bad, but I don’t know how to stop it.

Ev­ery­one told us that, ahead of the ar­rival of our first child, we shouldn’t bring home a sin­gle toy; they would soon ar­rive in waves, fill­ing ev­ery crevice and over­tak­ing all the fur­ni­ture. Hand-me-downs from friends, yard sale pur­chases, birthday gifts: these col­or­ful, mu­si­cal gems would be­come our new­est room­mates, block­ing our path to the stairs and trip­ping us up as we for­age for mid­night snacks.

I was so cute when Oliver ar­rived, think­ing we would es­cape the scourge that is DUPLO blocks (LEGO’s kid brother). I find them lodged every­where from couch cush­ions to bath­tub drains. We’ll just get a nice toy box, I thought, and stuff every­thing in there. It’ll be easy to clean up. How long could a nightly tidy­ing rou­tine ac­tu­ally take?

Homes are sanc­tu­ar­ies, and blah blah blah.

Now, trust me: we’re not neat freaks. I’ve put our busi­ness in the streets many times by men­tion­ing the never-end­ing piles of mail, the mugs for­got­ten around the house, the laun­dry that ac­cu­mu­lates next to the ham­per — not in it.

But this? The toys are a whole new level of crazy.

I guess Oliver was about a year old when we just . . . gave up. I bought one lonely fab­ric bin at HomeGoods early in par­ent­hood, think­ing that would be plenty of stor­age (and it was so trendy!). It’s been over­flow­ing for months. As soon as Ol­lie was mo­bile, his fa­vorite game be­came crawl­ing over to sys­tem­at­i­cally de­stroy the liv­ing room. Then the din­ing area. Then the kitchen. He’s re­ally good at it. Books. Blocks. Teething toys. De­flated bal­loons. Mu­si­cal ro­bots. Bath toys that have wan­dered far from the bath. Empty plas­tic cups. Half-full wa­ter bot­tles. Pots. Spoons. Cookie tins. An adorable toy farm miss­ing all its res­i­dents save one goat.

These are a few of Ol­lie’s fa­vorite things.

My child be­lieves in equal­ity, en­sur­ing that no ob­ject in our house feels ne­glected. He does have fa­vorite books, but toys? Noth­ing is off-lim­its. Ev­ery loud, an­noy­ing thing will have its mo­ment in the sun.

Some­times I sur­vey the wreck­age and marvel at how very far we’ve fallen. For a while, we had folks com­ing in con­stantly to see the new baby — and that helped keep us “com­pany-ready” at all times. Even in my deliri­ous new par­ent haze, I tried to keep the floors vac­u­umed.

In hind­sight? I wish I hadn’t wor­ried so much about that. No one cared about the ce­real bowls in the sink. But the need to freshen up for com­pany is so deeply in­grained in me — so much a part of my ge­netic code — that it’s im­pos­si­ble to fight. A sim­ple “head­ing over!” text will have me fu­ri­ously scrub­bing a toi­let in no time.

But you know what’s changed all that? Face­Time.

“Head­ing over” can be rel­a­tive. At any given mo­ment, I can be greeted by fam­ily mem­bers’ smil­ing faces through our smart­phones — mean­ing they’re “here” with­out ac­tu­ally be­ing here, see­ing our home in all its in­glo­ri­ous glory. Mod­ern tech­nol­ogy is a won­der­ful thing, and I love that my motherand fa­ther-in-law can feel con­nected to their grand­son from out-of-state.

But you know what else that means? Con­trol­ling the chaos.

There is an easy so­lu­tion to this, I know: stop wor­ry­ing about it. And I have made strides to­ward not mak­ing my­self crazy about the mess.

The cur­rent state of the down­stairs would at­test to that. As we left for work Wednes­day morn­ing, Puffs snacks — and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing Puffs dust — cov­ered swaths of the kitchen floor and Ol­lie’s high chair. A dis­carded spoon, still with part of break­fast, had been tossed near the fridge.

In the liv­ing room, yes­ter­day’s one­sie — changed just be­fore we left for day care — was crum­pled on the stairs. Oliver’s cups and bot­tles lit­tered the cof­fee table. Quilts — or, sorry, “tents” — were stretched across half the room. And that’s all to say noth­ing of the ac­tual toys, flung far and wide.

I’ve kind of . . . stopped see­ing it. Is that bad? Like the “You’ve gone nose­blind” com­mer­cials, I con­sider the house rea­son­ably clean if the couch is clear enough to be used as an ac­tual couch and junk mail hasn’t top­pled off the TV stand.

My stan­dards, as they say, have low­ered. Some might call it messy; I call it pre­serv­ing my san­ity.

But se­ri­ously, if you’re stop­ping by . . . maybe shoot us a text first.

Unan­nounced vis­i­tors have to help pick up all the dirty spoons.

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