Posted by Duff

If you’re looking to have me committed, gift my child a toy with multiple pieces: puzzles, board games, fridge toys. Particularly something with wooden or plastic numbers or letters. That way, 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 and 9 will be a constant reminder that 3, 5 and 8 have gone the way of the dinosaur.

At supermarket check out, I dig in my purse for my wallet, only to find a small, orange, wooden fish, separated from his school.  And speaking of grocery shopping, don’t get me started on the plastic cart and 100-piece faux food set. In an effort to avoid clutter (his aversion), my husband has stored the cart — somewhere even he can’t find it. One green pepper and one red apple remain underfoot as a reminder of the 98 plastic and cardboard items that have disappeared into the (not so) great beyond of our home.

Worse than the missing? The mismatched. In a box of multicolored blocks: a playing card; a broken and peeled purple crayon; Mr. Potato Head’s lips.

That’s kids for you. Their influence spills over into everything; nothing can ever be compartmentalized again. Here, The Dervish illustrates that point:

Play-Doh 4

I am at ease when The Play-Doh behaves, surface mingling only, with the other colors.  Everyone retires to their respective canisters afterward.

However, my daughter has become a pastry chef, rolling out lavender gumpaste and layering fuschia fondant to punctuate her mark on my universe.  You know how hard it is to separate colors once they are forcefully pressed together. Just give up. It’s over.

Check out this handiwork: Play-Doh 3I think it’s a cross between decoupage and papier-mâché. Which means that under this frosting, there is no more ‘yellow’, no more simply ‘pink’. There is pellow and yink. Holy crap, my orderly world has been turned on its proverbial ass.

But. She is happy. She is engrossed. She is proud of her creations. The child who has never taken to crayons or paint has finally found her medium.  Just back away, slowly.

Without prompting, she mounts her favorite pieces on pedestals, begs us not to disassemble her display while she takes her bath.  I hand this task off to my husband. Attempting to extract inseparable swirls will surely drive me mad. IMG_2621

But it’s not just that. Something in me has changed. Those little cakes may interfere with my sense of order, but I hate to see them go, to be the one to break them down.  Her vision has me toeing the confines of my neurotic comfort zone.

Isn’t that the point of art?

She has reminded me how, back when my house was cleaner and smelled better, and things were put away where they belonged, I was acutely aware of the hollow space where my children would grow. Before I even knew to expect there would be a Dervish or an Atticus, I missed them. How I hoped, when The Unknown arrived, they’d flow seamlessly into every imaginable corner of our lives.  I certainly didn’t have children to make my house (or life) neater or more organized.

Amid utter disorder, we have completed our unmatched set.

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