Friday, November 15, 2013

They Might Be Giants "What's That Blue Thing Doing Here?"

There's a Youtube video that's appeared on my Facebook feed a number of times in the last few days, featuring a comedian delineating the difference between couples who don't have kids, and couples who do.  A number of times, he repeats the phrase, "You have no idea."

I'm sure there is also a rich comedy vein to be tapped by a married person, explaining to unmarried folks that they also have no idea what actually happens in a marriage.

Please examine the picture below.

I can tell you what's on the left.  It's a LL Bean tote bag, with my son's name on it.  We use the bag for when he does at overnight at Grandma's house.  In it, is his coat.  The bag is on the floor of my bedroom.

Not terribly unusual.

It's the object center-right that is confounding.

It is a large metal bowl.  Normally, I would use that for food preparation.  For instance, if I am making meatloaf, this particular metal bowl is excellent for mixing up ground beef and bread crumbs.

Occasionally, this bowl will be appropriated by the kids to house a bunch of Legos or Little People.  Or be used as a drum.

Back to the picture:  Inside the bowl is an thin old sweatshirt belonging to my wife.

I noticed this bowl-n-sweatshirt combination about a month ago.

Honestly, it didn't really register the first couple of times.

I live with an artist and two small children.  And I am pretty slobby.  Between us, the house is always in some level of disarray and disorganization.  If not outright chaos.

Not that we never clean up.  It's just that the speed of disorganization is much greater that the speed of organization.

In my daily bit of cleaning up and clearing up, I'd walk by that bowl and think about taking it to the sink to be cleaned.  I'd think about grabbing the sweatshirt and tossing it into the laundry basket.

But for some reason, the sweatshirt in the bowl began to intrigue me.

WHY was this sweatshirt in a bowl?  And who put it there?

I decided to wait it out.

Could this be the work of my wife?

Certainly.  She often runs art lessons and camps out of our home, and one of the more popular projects she does, is tie-dying with the kids.  Maybe that's why she needed the metal bowl, as a plastic one would stain.

If I threw the sweatshirt in the laundry, the process she had started would be broken, and might even fall off the checklist.  Maybe this bowl was on the floor because she was going to get to it, when she found some time.

I let days pass.  The sweatshirt remained in the bowl amongst other chattel on the bedroom floor.

Another thought occurred to me.  Maybe this was the work of the kids.

Imaginative play is huge in our house.  Sacred, practically.

I do think this comes from living with an artist.

Our basic parenting philosophy is that as long as it isn't dangerous or permanently damaging, the kids can use most anything in the house, to create their visions.

This is why it is not uncommon to find a number of building blocks attached to the bottom of a pair of shoes using hair elastics.  They're homemade stilt-stompers!  Or to find a zoo's worth of stuffed animals laid out across their bedroom floor, each one covered with a face cloth or dishtowel.  "They're having a sleepover in their tiny sleeping bags!"

Was this a part of some child-created vignette?  The sweatshirt was a baby, and this was a crib?  It was a lizard and the bowl was a terrarium?

I left the bowl alone, more curious than ever.

Weeks passed.

Oh sure, any of the thousands of times I passed by the bowl, I could have said, "Honey/Kids, why is this sweatshirt in this bowl?"  But I was more curious to know what would become of this bowl-n-sweatshirt combination.

Nearly a month went by.

The thought occurred to me that maybe no one put the sweatshirt in the bowl.  I mean, no one put the sweatshirt in the bowl with intention.  The sweatshirt just ended up in the bowl.

And if that were the case, then were my wife and kids also passing by the bowl multiple times a day, wondering like I was, "Why is that sweatshirt in that bowl?  I don't know, but I'm sure whoever put it there, they had their reasons.  I'd better leave it alone."

When you live alone, you know where everything is, and why you put it there.  And if you don't, you only have yourself to blame.

But for those of you who are not married/don't have kids . . . you have no idea.

I learned to accept this early on in marriage/parenthood.

For instance, I barely flinch when, on Thanksgiving, I ask "Where is the potato masher?" and receive the answer, "With the print-making art supplies."

And when you have kids, you just acclimate to the condition of finding things where they don't belong.  We even made up a little song about it, called "Why Is That Pea On The Bathroom Floor?"

One day a week or so ago, I noticed that the bowl was in the sink.  And I saw the sweatshirt come out of the laundry.

I didn't ask why.

Sometimes things just appear where you wouldn't expect them to.  And they disappear just ask quickly.  It's just part of marriage/parenthood.


I had resisted asking anyone in my family about the sweatshirt in the bowl.  But after spending last night writing this post . . . well, the curiosity has overwhelmed me.

As I was sending my wife out the door to work, I corralled her and had her look at the picture for this post.

"Did you do this?"

"Yes.  It has a big stain on it, so I was going to dye it."

Mystery solved.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear the whole "Fingertips" suite on Youtube.

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