Talk about the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I recall with fondness the good old days, when I complained on this blog about a ubiquitous makeup brush. Everywhere I turned, it seemed, the thing was. It acted downright demonic. But it was really just very popular with the then two-year-old living in my house.
Little did I know how much worse things could be. Or how easy I had it then. The brush was, after all, a single object.
The fake money that came later was worse–there were multiples, after all–but even then, its numbers were somewhat limited. Same with the pipe cleaners. Yes, they were scattered everywhere, but there couldn’t have been more than, oh, thirty or forty of them in total.
How innocent it all seems now.
For we have advanced to the stage of the–well, I know not even what to call it. Endless yellow packing material, I guess.
Let me go back.
It started at Christmas. Our old friend, Carol–a woman who contains more creative energy in her left toenail than I do in my entire body–gave Myra-Jean a “treasure box” that she’d made herself. It was large, with gold hinges, the rest painted blue with green stripes. On the top, my daughter’s initals were embossed in colorful wood. Inside were beads, perhaps some coins, and a handful of those small, smooth, stones you buy at Michael’s–I believe the official term for them is “fairy tears.” (Which probably scares the shit out of children–“why’s the fairy crying?”–but whatever.)
Anyway. These items didn’t take up much space. So, to fill the box out, Carol placed in it a large wad of yellow paper straw. Like the stuff you see in Easter baskets. Or wooden crates filled with pears. Or gift boxes of soap.
MJ liked the chest just fine. She loved the treasures. But her favorite part of the gift, bar none, were the sun-colored paper shreds inside. The stuff was endlessly interpretable. It was hay for toy horses, nests for play birds, beds for little people. It could be beaded–sort of–and made into bracelets. It could be scattered. It could be patted. It could be worn as hair.
“This stuff is gonna be a problem,” I muttered to Mike a few days later, as we packed up our Christmas gifts to be sent home. “We should trash it now.”
“I don’t know,” he demurred. “”She seems to like it.”
There was a pause. Mostly benign.
“I’ll throw it away later,” I muttered.
And home it flew, to L.A.
I can’t tell you how many times, since then, I have sworn to fulfill that promise. Most recently today, when I found, as I vacuumed, at least one piece of the straw–which grows more popular by the day–in every single room of the house.
But once again, Mike came to the rescue.
“She’s gotten so much mileage from it. I think it’s her favorite thing ever.”
He gazed at me with that calm, frank look he gets when he’s reminding me–ever so gently–not to be such a tight-ass.
I gazed back at him with that tight-lipped, furrowed-brow look I get when I’m thinking “you’re not the one vacuuming it up every day.”
Done with our gazing, we agreed the hay would stay.
“But,” I muttered, as I picked strands of it out of one of our houseplants. “I’m hiding it from her.”
In the end I didn’t even do that. I just shoved it back in its treasure chest and left it in the living room. Why fight the inevitable? Tomorrow it’ll end up, once again, strewn like mulch in every corner of our home.
But tonight? It rests paperishly in its box.
My daughter, her precious playthings safe, sleeps peacefully in her bed.
And me? I sit happily on the couch, enjoying–for a sweet, short moment, an immaculately clean-swept house.
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