It happens so fast. Although I’ve never been in a tornado, the aftermath appears the same. Toys, trash, food and clothes are scattered everywhere. The three lowest shelves on the bookshelf have been completely emptied, the books strewn haphazardly around the living room. A windowsill has been broken, leaving a piece of molding dangling carelessly, inches from the floor. Glancing towards the door I see what is either a turd or a half-eaten teething biscuit, peeking out from under a stray boot. “Please don’t be a turd” I say to no one in particular. The cats cautiously navigate the mess with curiosity and a mild degree of fear, which I echo. My husband exits the bathroom, steps over a soccer ball, dodges a laundry basket and nearly crushes a set of custom paper mache finger puppets and sighs. The only one who seems unaffected is Baby 1.0, who is contentedly shredding pages out of a magazine. “What happened?” he asks. “She woke up,” I reply.
This mess, this unbelievable mess, is Baby 1.0’s mission in life right now. There are few things that bring her more joy than dumping, smearing, swiping, emptying and otherwise removing the contents of anything that has contents. From baskets of blocks to bowls of blueberries, nothing is safe from ending up in a pile on the floor. The white carpeted floor, mind you, which is quickly starting to take the appearance of Desert Storm-era khaki camouflage. The fridge seems to have become a breeding ground where tiny containers spawn other tiny containers, all filled with a few bites of food Baby 1.0 has decided she no longer likes. The windows and sliding glass door are nearly opaque with sticky finger prints and tongue marks alike.
But the mess isn’t contained to the play area, or even the house for that matter. The car looks like a giant hamster nest, with enough Cheerios, raisins, and shredded paper to sustain a family of 4, and keep them warm in even the coldest of winter nights. The stroller, no matter what I do, seems to always have a new crop of crumbs escaping out of crevices, waiting to be ground into the carpet, or be gobbled up by grubby fingers on the way home from the park. Somehow we even leave the park looking dirtier than it was, with a trail of wood chips following us home, as if we were the lumber-jack version of Hansel and Gretel.
For the most part, the mess doesn’t bother me. Or at least it didn’t until this morning when I was hunched over the sink, eating second breakfast, nestled between a greasy paper bag waiting to be taken out to the compost, and what remained of the bowl of aforementioned blueberries rescued from the carpet. But standing there, disintegrating breakfast burrito in hand, I couldn’t help but wonder, am I super gross, or is my acceptance of this mess a survival mechanism? I tend to lean more towards the latter, because it’s not like I don’t try. All day, every day, I am constantly picking up here and there. But the mess multiplies in a way I can never keep up with. And so things happen, like a greasy paper bag, waiting on the counter for days to finally make it down to the compost.
I suppose this is just par for the course, and in due time she will learn to help us pick it up and put it away. So for now, I think I will stay the course, and do my best to simultaneously turn a blind eye, and try not to fall victim to the dreaded full-bodyweight-on-a-lego scenario.
So who’s with me? Any other parents out there with houses that could potentially be confused for an episode of Hoarders?