From the top of the stairs, I heard my husband fiddling with the coat closet by the front door. "Honey," I called, "what are you doing?"
"I'm cleaning," he said.
And I felt something a lot of mothers feel when their spouses begin to put things away. Sheer panic.
What the heck was this woolly mammoth he'd just tossed into my neat little line of ducks? I peeked down the stairs and saw him with three pairs of my shoes tucked under his arm.
I walked down and past him, trying not to look like I'd "caught" him cleaning. He gave me a wide grin because he knew what I was thinking: those shoes don't go in there. And I knew what he was thinking: they do now.
Then my son said, "Look, Mommy! I made a train." He'd taken every book off the shelf, every dinosaur, every car and covered the living room floor in a snake-like pattern. My daughter, meanwhile, had gathered all the blankets and throw pillows from the living room, and piled them on her rocking horse in the den. "A tent, Mommy!" she said.
As I watched the contents of my house shift with the tsunami-like energy of my family, I saw something that stopped the panic and made me realize, this is fun.
I didn't want my husband to put my shoes somewhere I'd never find them. And I knew I'd be putting my son's books away later so they wouldn't get trampled. And when my daughter asked for a blanket I'd have to remember where she'd left them.
But what I saw that drew me into the tsunami instead of against it, were the faces of my family. Smiling. Having fun. Playing games.
Children have so many rules they need to follow that it's especially important to give them control over their environment whenever you can. It's how they build confidence, express themselves and play happy.
And as for husbands putting shoes away? Come on. Does it get any better?
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