Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It Goes In the Purple Box

At work the other night, comparing phone pictures of cute offspring with co-workers. I had a picture of Knox in the playroom and in the background, you could see a row of colored fabric boxes I have lined up along the back wall. Very casually, my friend said "what goes in the purple box?". Without a second of hesitation, I answered "non-educational blocks and Legos". Immediately, I clapped my hand over my mouth and stared at her in shock. Really?? That just came out of my mouth? Me, the girl who invented dinner the night before by adding whatever was in the pantry to some noodles and called it Pasta Primavera because I didn't have a plan for feeding my family an actual meal?

The colored boxes in the playroom came about a few weeks after Pursy's second birthday when I had a meltdown looking around at all the PIECES in our home. Puzzle pieces, chalk, blocks, Legos, crayons, magnets, farm animals, stickers- the older children get the more pieces their toys dissolve into. Designers of infant toys are smart- everything is connected together by ribbons or ties or stretchy/bouncy things. No one wants to hear a baby cry while they are searching for a piece of a toy that rolled under the couch.

But we want toddlers to LEARN. Discover, experiment, practice, create... so we give them things with different colors, shapes, feel, and purpose. And we think this can only be done if we positively frustrate them by giving them a million pieces to work with. All for the sake of development.

What I have developed is a familiarity with my latent OCD. Looking around the playroom, I realized that if I didn't organize the stuff in there, the hundred of pieces would form a tiny army and take over my house. So I went to Target and created the multi colored box Dewey Decimal system for the babes toys. I knew I had this manic tendency, evidenced earlier in my life by closet and dresser overhauls- ending in a trunk full of garbage bags to take to thrift or consignment and nothing left to wear but things that were made in the USA or of sustainable fibers... whatever the trendy thing to care about was that week. There was also a school transfer and cross country move after a knarly breakup in college. I am impulsive when it comes to making decisions, but when I decide to do something- it gets DONE.

Grant will attest- I do not clean often but when I do, it is not half-assed. I don't just sweep one room. I sweep the entire house, followed by a wet swiffer and finish with a paper towel to the baseboards. It makes me intermittently productive. I'm sure Grant would prefer a casual clean of the bathroom once a week as opposed to the grout being scrubbed with a toothbrush and the shower getting a bleach cleaning once every few months. 

Our present church situation had brought out my manic organization into the light. In short, we as a church body have decided to develop lives of discipline and commitment- following rhythms and habits of prayer, meditation, solitude, fasting and Scripture reading. I knew these things were not going to get done in my present unstructured stay at home Mama life. When I walk in the door of the hospital, my OCD says hello and buys me a coffee. I am really good at my job, in part because when you are managing 4-5 patients in heart failure you need to make sure everything gets done in a timely and quality fashion. But at home, the only thing I know for sure when I wake up in the morning is that I am going to make coffee. The rest of the day depends on whether Knox is teething, how Purslane is doing with peeing on the potty, whether we have library books due, if it is raining, babes who think the day begins at 5AM, whether or not I remembered to grab toilet paper or if we need to run to Target, etc.

On Sunday when we were discussing morning prayer, the thought went through my head that morning really is a subjective term. Does the day begin when we get out of bed or when Pursy comes into bed with us? My breakfast time or the kids breakfast time? Sunrise or 7am? WHEN IS THE MORNING???

So I did what every person with latent OCD does. I made a Table on Microsoft Word with seven columns for each day of the week and then added in everything that needs to get done in a day. Key element that might ensure my success: there are no times of day on this Table. If morning prayers happen after Pursy's afternoon nap, so be it. If laundry gets started at 9pm after the babes are in bed, so be it. I have Grant and I's exercise time first thing every day but I know there will be some days that I don't get to the gym until after dinner. The point is, there is a place on the chart for everything. Yes Grant, including small daily cleaning jobs.

And just to make me happy, the chart is purple. Just like the Non-educational Blocks and Legos box.

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