These things have homes.
Yet, if you would stop over for a visit, you would find these things in action. At least that’s the new term around here.
Ironically, in action doesn’t actually mean there is current movement. In action, according to my kids, means there is potential for action. So instead of putting the football and frisbee in the ball tote, they stay by the back door or at the edge of the garage because there is a potential for action…sometime this summer. The sunscreen doesn’t get returned to the bathroom cupboard because it will be in action this afternoon or the next afternoon.
The Legos remain out because they will be in action later. The friendship bracelet is pinned to the couch pillow because it might be in action tonight or tomorrow or next week.
Yesterday we had a little talk about the action of picking up and putting away. There is something soothing about a tidy house.
That’s what I said, too. So we picked up. Vacuumed. Dusted. It was soothing. I walked around the house, smiled, and then walked to the mailbox.
I returned and found Lego creations, friendship bracelets, a drawing pad, everything on the above list all out again. “What’s going on?” I asked, trying to keep the frustration from spilling on anyone.
“It’s soothing to have our stuff ready for action,” they said.
“You never know when you’re going to want to play dolls or draw a horse or make a friendship bracelet,” Hannah said.
“Sometimes I want to read my book, then I want to play softball,” Steph added.
“And if you only have one thing out, how can I make a Lego garage for my Hot Wheels?” Jordan asked.
“I need all of these books,” Sam said, surrounded by eight books. “I never know what I’m going to feel like reading. And I have to have my notebook, writers have ideas all the time, especially when they build Lego ships.” He snapped another Lego in place.
I rolled my eyes and turned away from them so they wouldn’t see. My eyes landed on a sign I bought last year because I thought it was funny way to welcome visitors.
It didn’t seem so funny now that it was chastising me. And if you look beyond it, you’ll see a photo. That’s Nate. Three years ago, you would have found him at our house many nights each week. We’ve not shared a story with him since then, because his heart stopped. In a moment, he wasn’t here anymore. When you have a friend who is healthy and young and you expect him for dinner after he spends the day at the lake, but instead you stand in a hospital room with his family and his body, it changes you. It makes you evaluate what is important.
Why do I sometimes forget what matters most?
Perhaps I should redefine a tidy house. The floors cleaned. The surfaces dusted. The appliances shined. The bathrooms scrubbed. The laundry folded.
Sure, toys are in action, and I have to step over and around them one more time. But they are evidence of kids who are alive and creative and content and available to hug and laugh and play — in action — here on earth for one more day.
Instead of chasing after a perfect house — after all, perfection is always too sterile for me — perhaps I should refuse to miss the blessings in action surrounding me moment by moment.