As I grow older I increasingly look for inspiration from people younger than myself, which, at odd moments, includes even my offspring. This is a risky business, as my oldest is only five. And as everyone knows, a 5-year-old is not the most rational of creatures. Still, as everyone also knows, a 5-year-old is endlessly inventive. Lately, I’ve marveled at my particular 5-year-old’s choice of places to sleep. While I glorify the bed, staring longingly at it as I pass through my bedroom several times a day, wondering just how long until the two of us can meet again, my son glorifies every place but the bed as a potential spot for resting his sweaty little head.
Just this past week, he insisted on sleeping in a) A laundry basket, and b) A homemade tepee. The surprising thing is, he slept beautifully in both places. As long as he has his favorite book beside him (currently The Picture Dictionary) and a comfortable pillow and blanket, he sleeps like a cat in sunlight. I confess to being amazed, especially at the tepee, as he made it from a tarp thrown over thin twigs and it was not exactly boogeyman-proof, yet he insisted on sleeping outside, by himself. My nerves broke long before his and at 9:30 pm I dragged him inside against his will.
All of this makes me reconsider my own lack of creativity. I can blame my aging back but is it more that I’m addicted to a routine, being in the same place all the time? If so, than I need to shake things up a bit. The routines of middle age will murder the impulses of youth every time — and, in spite of what I tell myself, this is not always a good thing. So here’s to mixing up the sleeping arrangements — within reason — and to hoping they manufacture a laundry basket in a super extra large size one of these days.
The Laundry Basket bed. Comfortable and economical...
The homemade tepee.
You look at your kid and think, “What will become of this person?” You try to interpret their tantrums, their sweet moments and everything in between along the Serial Killer-to-President spectrum. So when I contemplate my own son’s preschool chaos, I am always looking for signs of order, of a deeper intelligence, those qualities which will move him ever closer to a potential Presidency on the all-important Spectrum of Success. (or Spectrum of Abject Failure, depending on whether or not you’re a glass full or glass empty kinda person).
One of a few entries I posted elsewhere pre-October 2010, before I (officially) started The Roving Home blog.
My son’s habitual slobbery – though he is but a wee lad – is already breathtaking at times, prompting one of his aunts to make the following observation more than once while watching him dribble through his meals: “You know, there are messy babies and neat babies…and he is a messy baby.”
And yet. There are moments, even in his celebrated messiness, when some sort of innate desire for order – at some level, no matter how humble – penetrates the pile of detritus in his room like a shot of sunlight through fog. A few days ago I demanded that he clean his room and told him I would check on his progress. When I arrived, I found this:
He had sorted his books, previously scattered throughout the four corners of his room, into a grid. Then I began to observe the other little signs of order amidst the chaos and realized each visit to the beach over the last several weeks yielded a stone or shell, which he lined up along the porch railing after returning home. And the items are all white, except for a purplish one I placed there and to which he objected – a fact I hardly noticed at the time.
My house (my life) falls far short of what I hope it will be – what I know it can be. I look around and think: “There are neat homes and messy homes…and I have a messy home.”
But I think of my son and know there is hope. The desire for order, to make sense of the chaos, will triumph, even if only for a moment, in the smallest of ways, a line of white rocks against the looming dark.