Calder has always been a tidy kid. I'd like to take some credit for that, seeing as how I'm the one who encouraged him to alphabetize his Matchbox cars by model, and to always put the crayons back in the box in a CMYK pattern. My mother-in-law, mother to four children and grandmother to eleven, told me once that she had never seen a child who was able to wipe his own face at two years old. Considering that her 37-year-old son still has difficulty doing this, I might not be surprised, but it is quite uncanny how at the communal toddler table, all the other kids have enough cracker crumbs and jelly smears and pretzel bits to sustain them through a week at minimum, and Calder has nothing but a wadded up napkin and a neat pile of mussel shells.
He's equally as neat with his toys, or he tries to be. We have a rule about putting one category of toys away before taking something else out, i.e.; put the puzzles away before you take out the playdough, stash the toy cars before setting up the train tracks, fold up the blackjack table and hide the bourbon before breaking out the fingerpaints. Most of the time we stick to this. Obviously I lend a hand and a shovel, but we manage to keep the playroom (which used to be called the living room until I had to decorate around the train table and a Fisher Price Farmhouse) in a constant state of able-to-be-picked-up-in 10-minutes-or-less. Since I am kind of a freak about this sort of thing, Calder and I get along just fine.
Today we had one of Calder's buddies from school over to play. N. is a great little kid with good manners and a happy demeanor. His mother and I are getting to be very good friends, and I truly enjoy hanging out with her while the kids play. For no particular reason, we usually play at N's house, but today the action took place here; three hours later and I don't know whether to start drinking or calling around for a frontloader. I know kids in the 2-6 range have a propensity for checking out each and every toy at their friends houses, but this sweet little kid managed to unshelve every book, deploy every last wheeled vehicle to a location under the sofa, fling all the cards from CandyLand to remote outposts in the house, dump out the carefully organized buckets of legos, animals, people, rescue vehicles, rescue vehicle accessories, pretend food, pretend doctor tools, assorted Crap from Other People that we have yet to throw away, and scraps of construction paper that are supposed to come in handy for a holiday project but are really just more Crap. It was in drifts across the floor. The dogs were perplexed. I needed GPS to find the children when it was time to go home.
His mother, while graciously offering to help "pick up" before she left, looked at this apocalypse with mere disinterest rather than the staggering bewilderment of her host. Now hear this. I get that kids are messy, and that not everyone has the same one-in one-out process that we do. I even know that my methods might be considered a little, well, tight. I've had plenty of experience with the detritus of a toddler playdate, I've just never seen such a massive effort made by one tiny little person. I would like to know what N. has for breakfast.
It may take me a month to reconcile all of the various puzzle pieces with their respective boxes. Maybe longer to re-alphabetize the stickers (D for dinosaurs, S for stars…) It will only take a minute, however, to open this bottle of wine and decide to leave it all until tomorrow.