T’was the end of the Christmas holiday, or if you prefer the politically correct version: T’was the end of the Holiday Season holiday , and the family was quietly going about the business of getting back to business. That is, we yelled across staircases for missing tiffin boxes, wondered aloud why things that were to be done during the luxurious break were still undone, books landed with a thump on the stairs, socks pushed under the sofa were retrieved and shoes frantically scoured the home for their partners. Folks wandering past the home may have been pardoned for thinking there was a nursery inside, but there! It was a typical end-of-vacation-day.
I opened the daughter’s backpack, put my hand in and let out a strangled yelp. I may have heard snapping inside, but I also felt like I was holding a fur ball. Judging by the smell, it could have been a marmalade-smeared rat or an orange-scented skunk. I felt around a bit more and there was another such monster. There was nothing to be done. I bit down the nausea brought on by eating too many cookies, remembered the brave deeds of my father while tackling rats in our childhood home, squared my shoulders for the onslaught and plunged my hand in with a grim determination to retrieve whatever monster the bag held.
There was no cat or rat to let out of the bag. It was just a couple of sad looking oranges that had long ago passed its ‘Best by’ date. Judging by the fungi on it, it may be long past the ‘Fling without spattering’ date as well. I moaned a sound that started out as ‘Ugh’, pitched up to a holler of her complete name, and squeaked down at ‘please’.
“Let’s clean it up.” I said becoming the stern taskmaster. We trooped up the stairs with the foul smelling bag and its 100 pound contents. I kid you not, that bag weighs about 100 pounds – I don’t know what is in there, for every child I see pulls this mini-suitcase-like bag along bursting at its seams with books it seems, and yet when it is time to buckle down to a piece of homework or an assignment, I see a fair bit of telephoning and neighbor hopping to ‘see if my friend has the book to finish the assignment’ happening. Sigh.
It was a good few minutes later, and the techniques of deep breathing successfully applied gave me the glowing answer. I let her deal with the bag with the able assistance of her father. There was still some bag-related noise upstairs, but it had mellowed to a gurgle with occasional spurts of “But Appa! I need that. It is for Moon-city.” (their play patch is christened something-city) This dash-city is home to some willow trees and a large grass patch. Lodged in blah-city is a variety of treasures ranging from pine cones to balls made of pencil shavings. (I have a series of blogs on pencil shavings that will make entertaining reading when I sit down to writing about it). It looked like a large layer of the general debris in the schoolbag was for Sun-city.
I like these glimpses into her childhood that I get. I hope this is the kind of thing that she will throw her mind back to when she thinks of her childhood. As a child I was best amused when left to my own devices and swinging on a tree trunk still tickles the endorphins in me. I agree with Bertrand Russell when he says that “The pleasures of childhood should in the main be such as the child extracts from his environment by means of some effort and inventiveness.”
This illustration by Maurice Sendak gets it: <Everybody should be quiet near a stream and listen>
Anyway, back to the bag. Judging by the level of debris in her bag, she may be one of the most creative persons I know. For there is this study that says folks with the messiest desks are the most creative.
I like the tone of this article. I now don’t have to castigate ourselves as a messy household, but paint ourselves as a creative household. Nice!