Despite my best efforts at cleaning, my living room still resembles a Santa sleigh crash scene: a Barbie shoe here, a Polly Pocket arm there and a tiny princess crown that will surely end up in someone’s foot (hopefully not mine). And I can’t even guess what those plastic gears are from.
I am rapidly learning that Christmas with two little girls consists of three main concepts: “princesses,” “pink” and “small parts.” These three were combined into many of the presents my girls received last month when both had their birthdays two weeks before Christmas. The toy invasion has spread to nearly every area of the house, except the man room, because I am pretty sure my toys could beat theirs in a fair fight.
Christmas was my favorite holiday as a kid. But looking back on it, my parents made some substantial commitments that I am not sure I could do. The G.I. Joe Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Flagg comes to mind. It was seven feet long, four feet wide, and ate up nearly 25 square feet of basement floor space. That was the best Christmas present I ever received, but as I recall, it put to sea at a garage sale two years later and hasn’t returned since.
Other presents come to mind: the slot car set, the train layout, Torpedo Run (Google that if the name doesn’t ring a bell. It’s the best board game of all time. Period). Never once as a child did I consider where these items were supposed to be stored or how they would not constantly be underfoot. Perhaps childhood really ends when you start realizing that plastic storage bins are a godsend.
When the wrapping paper was ripped off of presents like “Princess Plastic Pants Extremely Fragile 328-piece Tea Set,” the selfish part of me wondered: “Where are we going to store this?” Our house isn’t small, but the existing toy population strains our organizational resources. Christmas and two birthdays create the toy equivalent of suddenly having another planet’s population decide to mass-evacuate to yours.
My theory is that being a parent entails accepting some level of minor natural disaster at any given time. It’s probably what living in New Orleans is like. Maybe that’s one of the many unrecognized small sacrifices parents make. We tolerate the chaos because it is our duty to – because it was tolerated when we created it so many years ago.
The changeover almost makes me want to paraphrase a famous verse from Corinthians: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I got a lot of super-cool transforming robot toys, I thought not how to organize them: but when I became a man, I put away other people’s childish things, or at least tried to until I realized how futile the entire idea was.”
I will miss these simple problems in about 10 years, when I am trying not to step on boundaries or the moral landmines that come with the teenage years. For now, I would simply like to see what my living room rug looks like without Dora the Explorer’s vacant countenance staring back at me from a box of scattered flashcards.