Cheryl Hughes: A Little Order, Please
I’m sure you’re familiar with one of the laws of thermodynamics that states, “Everything is moving toward chaos.” If you want to see it in action, just make a visit to my house. Evidently, my granddaughter, Sabria, doesn’t think we’re getting there fast enough, so she has recently stepped up her game. Her newest activity involves filling a small wire waste basket with wooden blocks, plastic farm animals, Easter eggs, and a yellow Dollywood kazoo then slinging the assortment in all directions across the kitchen and living room floors.
When it comes to my house, I’ve never really been an obsessive-compulsive cleaner. I let my own children set up tents in the living room and play board games at the kitchen table. Nikki kept an aquarium of first, tadpoles then red slider turtles in her bed room. Ours’ was the house where all the kids gathered to play, so the trash was always full of pizza boxes and chicken nuggets bags. I was young, I had energy.
Fast forward thirty years. I’m older and I’m tired. I enjoy Sabria’s energy and excitement, but I need order in my life just to feel that life is manageable. Last week, I decided it was time to clean out Nikki’s and Natalie’s old toy room to make room for Sabria’s world.
I kept a lot of my kids’ toys. The ones not on shelves are in large plastic totes. Their books are still on the two large bookcases against the far wall. The Cat In The Hat and all of his associates are still there. Peanuts, Garfield, Rudyard Kipling, Shel Silverstein, Clara Barton, Mother Theresa, and Amelia Earhart keep one another company. There are books on whales and dolphins and string games and friendship bracelets, as well as Prince Charming and Snow White paper dolls from Disney World. I moved the more fragile books to the upper shelves and left the Little Golden books where Sabria could easily reach them.
I moved the Ninja Turtles action figures to a shelf a few feet above Sabria’s height. They were Nikki’s favorite, and I don’t want them to end up pushed out the screen window for Scout to chew on. I placed the whales, dolphins and other marine life plastic figures on the bottom shelf. They were always tough little critters, and I hope she enjoys them as much as Nikki did. The Breyer horses earned a place on the top shelf, but My Little Pony and her relatives now live in a box on the floor. During Nikki’s childhood, they swam in the bathtub and pool, and spent many hours in a little red wagon with assorted box turtles. They’re virtually indestructible.
I put Nat’s Barbie dolls out of reach, but left some baby dolls on a lower shelf. I didn’t have the heart to put the small basket of baby triplets where Sabria could get to them, though. The thought of their tiny heads being hurled against the toy room wall was too disturbing.
I found things I had forgotten about like Barbie’s Corvette and hot tub—Garey always said Barbie lived a lot better than we did. One of my favorite finds were the space guns that shot flying discs. I got those for Garey, Nik, and Nat one year for Christmas. They spent hours chasing each other through the house with them. I decided to put the jars of McDonald’s Happy Meals toys away. Sabria still puts a lot of things in her mouth.
Many of the things I found while cleaning the room will remain hidden away until she works her way through the current chaos stage. She seems to want to nurture the stuffed animals and there are a ton of those, thanks to Nik’s affinity for them, so I will let her lug those around to her heart’s content. I probably need to keep an eye on her, though. Last week, I noticed her walloping the daylights out of a teddy bear who kept slumping over in the little wooden stroller she was pushing through the house. It would seem that she, herself, prefers a bit of order in the midst of the chaos.