Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Letting my child decorate

My home has begun to show increasing evidence of the smallest of humans. When I first had my son, I made sure his toys were safely tucked away and brought out when needed. His bassinet was in my room, and the only way to know I had a small child was to see bottles in the sink or the swing set up in my living room. When people came over, it bothered me if I didn't have all the baby things put away. Then I noticed a slow progression: soothers began showing up in the most random of places. Baby spoons peeked out from beneath furniture and on top of the piano. Soon, my carpet had a tint of orange in places where the vacuum had overlooked crunched goldfish crackers (and for the record, orange does not match my decor in any way, shape or form) and my glass coffee table was perpetually smudged with fingerprints, no matter how often I took Windex to it. My son's door has abstract art on it, exactly 32 inches above the ground and in haphazard purple lines. My fridge is decorated not with designer magnets, but fingerpainting keepsakes and photos of a very wary toddler on the lap of a big man in a red suit.

Still, I tried to make sure toys were always off the living room area rug and stayed in his playroom or bedroom, where I could shut the door and pretend the mess didn't exist. I would be running after him a dozen times a day picking up random cutlery from the dishwasher and toy cars while tripping over bath toys that had somehow migrated to my kitchen, adding a face print to the wall that already had hand prints all over it. I never purported to be an excellent housekeeper, but this was ridiculous; we tried to make this home comfortable with dried flowers and matching curtains, but rattles and trains didn't match my Pinterest-perfect idea of what my house should look like!

Then I began to look around. I had decorated with framed paintings and leather couches. I had overlooked my own dishes in the sink because they were forgivable; after all, I have a toddler! If my floor wasn't swept, well, at least put the broom out in the corner to make it look like I'd made an effort. My counters showcase bins of pasta and granola and small appliances, and my husband's text books lie neatly stacked next to the couch. Everywhere, I've allowed evidence of myself and my husband to occupy the space in my home. I can even overlook the pile of folded laundry in the basket, as long as it's contained. Even a dog toy seems somewhat acceptable! But if I see a stuffed toy sitting on the couch, a fork placed on top of the chess set, or a sippy in the corner of my kitchen, I find myself irate.

"How can I never get ahead?" I shriek.

Likely because my idea of decorating is on glossy magazine covers where no one lives. I have yet to see a small child walk out of the pages of HomeSense asking, "Mommy, read dat?"

My son's idea of decorating consists of a half-eaten cheesestring on the kitchen chair so when in 10 minutes he wants more, he can reach it and still keep it away from the dog. His idea of decorating is six books on the floor so Mom knows which one he wants to read next. He believes the best form of art is the picture he drew with applesauce on his high chair tray.

His idea of decorating is not very clean, so it needs to be temporary... but perhaps not so temporary that I need to erase every iota of evidence that he lives here, too. Maybe I can leave the chess piece in the fridge, the crayons on the piano bench, and the two toys on the carpet - just as I've left my dishes in the sink - for just an afternoon so he can play outside and have me watch him jump on the sandbox cover and chase the dog. There is something to be said for cleanliness, but a red toybox beside my leather couch is not going to hurt anything except my sense of style... which apparently needs a minor adjustment. And if someone sees that evidence, I may have to accept that a package of wipes on the table is just as acceptable as a few plates in the sink.

1 comment:

  1. Of course, that smile is the most amazing decoration any home can have. You're doing well.