My father had his methods for preparing the house for dinner guests when we were kids.The guests would be due within the hour and somehow he’d finally realize that the house was a mess. So he’d make a sweep of the dining room, the living room, the kitchen and any other common living quarters and pick up any loose toys, skateboards, bike parts, basketballs, baseballs, jackets, shirts, shoes, books, notebooks and backpacks.
He’d make trip after trip with a determined look on his face to lug it out of sight and into our rooms – the three boys and the two girls’ – and onto our beds and floors and out of his mind.
He’d shut the doors despite our protests that if he put it away properly instead of storming about then the house would be clean and organized. At least until tomorrow.
He chose to storm.
Now as a father with three kids and dinner guests on the way, I face the task of cleaning up. I survey the living room and try to catch a glimpse of the floor underneath a carpet of clothes, toys, books and paper. I can’t. In a corner stands a toy kitchen with all the contents seemingly displaced around it by a hurricane. Where to start? The toy kitchen, yes, the toy kitchen. I take a step forward in my bare feet and stand on a marble underneath the rug. Ouch! I fall onto a heap of jackets on the sofa and a doll underneath that screams, “Mama!” I jump up and stumble on my son’s shoes and topple again onto the other end of the sofa and Buzz Lightyear, who shouts, “This is an intergalactic emergency!”
It sure is.
Then the fury takes over. I collect everything by the bushel and heave it into the kids’ rooms and close the doors to muffled protests of, “Dad!”
I choose to storm.