Kids are cool.
Yes, they leave sticky popsicle trails along my hardwood floors. Yes, they smuggle cookies and chips from the pantry when I’m not looking. And, of course, they contribute to my ever-growing mountain of laundry by wearing three different outfits apiece each day. But they’re still cool.
Mine are still under the age of ten and brimming with innocence–and I love that. Sometimes I feel their simplicity like sunshine on a cool spring morning, not quite enough to cut through the chill of real-life, but enough to make it bearable. Other times it sweeps in and obliterates the restrictions of adulthood and sucks me into an alternate dimension. They balance me and make the rat race worth living.
Let me ‘splain.
A few months ago, the family and I were doing the normal Friday night routine–me in my writing nook and papa bear in his man cave–when I realized the girls had left me alone with my words for an extraordinary length of time. (Interpretation: This can’t be good.)
So, I found a good stopping point in my manuscript and started following the path of destruction through the house. Crayons and coloring books out on the desk. The oldest’s latest recycle bin art project–held together with an entire roll of Scotch tape. An open bag of salt and vinegar chips. The Hello Kitty blanket strung between two barstools.
By the time I got upstairs, I still hadn’t found them and my oh-shit-o-meter was creeping to dangerous levels.
The lights were off in their room, so I kept going, headed to my room. I had visions of the littlest one neck-deep in my makeup case dolled up like Tammy Faye Baker or the oldest creating an artistic masterpiece made of acrylic paint and my finest sheet set.
I still didn’t find them.
I headed back toward the stairs and yelled over the railing. “Vic, have you seen the girls?”
No response from the man cave, but I did catch a tiny duet of giggles….coming from their dark bedroom.
I crept inside, careful not to let the hardwoods squeak. (Sometimes it’s better to catch them red-handed.)
More with the giggles.
I followed the sounds and realized they were in the closet, lights out, little flashlight beams streaming beneath the closed doors.
It wasn’t until I flipped on the light that I realized the complexity of their most recent escapade.
They’d piled every stuffy and pillow pet they own at the base of their toy closet to form a mini bed then covered it with a bunch of chenille blankets. Each were armed with flashlights and books, juice boxes and fruit snacks as rations on the shelves. (Smart move, IMHO. One never knows when one will need sustenance.)
They giggled at me, snuggled down in their soft cocoon, brandishing their flashlights. “Can we sleep in here tonight?”
“No, you can’t sleep in the closet!” I said. “Who the heck sleeps in the closet?”
“Come on, mom. It’ll be fun.”
I walked away and went to get the hubby. Some things just had to be seen to be believed.
Then I stopped.
Why the hell couldn’t they sleep in the closet?
I strode back and took another look at them. “Ok. You can sleep in the closet.”
Their happy cheers almost knocked me over. You’d have thought I’d just given them free reign at Build-A-Bear. And yes, they slept in there the whole night. The mere thought of sleeping on their haphazard bed made my back ache, but they were thrilled. And, for a brief moment in time, I felt their pleasure, hoping their night of camping would set up roots in their memory. It sure as heck planted in mine.
What about you? Have the children in your life sparked your creativity? Eased some of the real-life grime from your veneer with their innocent joy? I’d love to hear your stories.