Panic hit our household, at least the oldest two-thirds, late this week. We have been in full fledged triage mode for the past several weeks, putting out fires as they surface, assessing priorities on the fly. This is not the way we like to operate around here. We are two Type-A’s (although our processes differ quite a bit) and we like to get things done in a timely manner, do them with the most hands-on, homemade attention we can muster (me), and in the most timely and cost efficient way we know how (my lovely other half). We have spawned another Type-A, who prides herself on order, method, and patient determination and is none too pleased when the end result does not match the vision she had in her head. Patient determination might be too slight a noun, doggedness is more fitting. Trick-or-treat to her is a gentle 90 second shoulder massage given by a loved one in passing; sorting, re-sorting, photo documenting, and allocating the loot is the day long spa retreat with head to toe pampering and lots of sparkling water. We added the additional (albeit twisted) thrill of the “allergy” sorting, and she was over the moon.
“Does this have tree nuts, Mom?”
“I see Almonds on the Snickers Bar label!”
“Is nougat made of nuts?”
The panic that has arisen is in the to-do list that is ever present in our minds, and seems to grow with each weekend rather than shrink. With the holidays fast approaching, we realized that we really need to buckle down. Being tired from work is no longer cutting it as an excuse. Things just need to get done around here.
We like to relax with the best of them, and we realize that our expectations for things to accomplish aren’t necessarily on par with the norm. (See the rehab slide shows if you need further evidence of this.) But we have some lingering projects around here, and the problem with those projects is that they have become the scapegoat for the list of other items that need to be done. Catch up with the filing? Can’t, because the filing system goes in the new rooms under construction. Work on the Christmas presents? Can’t, because the new room is where the studio space will be. Clean the house? Can’t, because the vacuum is being held hostage in the new rooms under construction, and besides, when we sand the drywall the house is just going to get all dusty again… and so it goes.
It started with his list, which made me sit down to mine. We haven’t discussed this list with the kid – it was a discussion we had over a restaurant meal on our weekly lunch date. But somehow she must have sensed the change in pace because Saturday morning she woke with a purpose. We had worked late into the night on Friday (I saw the two o’clock hour) and the next morning around 7:30 we heard her get out of bed. She sang to herself as she played, then she recited the entire text of the Christmas musical she’s practicing for next month, and then she fell quiet for awhile. When we drug ourselves out of bed sometime after 8, I found her scribbling furiously in her notebook. When she wants to write words she writes them, when she wants to write something important, she makes a series of scribble-y lines that represent “grownup” cursive writing. She makes box after box, line after line, and fills these up with her lists. She draws pictures for her best friends and makes lists down the side which she carefully cuts out. Grocery lists, to-do lists, lists of thoughts she has for future blog posts. I’m not entirely sure what they all are, but they are organized and color coded and absolutely essential to her. Perhaps I should be worried. She’s only four.
That morning she had pages of them, and she listed off the titles and themes of each list. The largest one, however, was not a list. It was a letter she had written to the musical director of the Christmas play. She told me what it “read”.
Dear Mrs. Musical Director:
I have been practicing all of the lines for the musical and I know them all in my memory. Please let me have a talking part in the play.
I told the choir leader the story this morning, and my shy little E, who lights up on a stage, raised her hand boldly when the group was asked if anyone else wished to have a speaking part. We’ll see if she does it. Her hand was raised awfully high.
We got some things marked off of the list, and I put some of the color I promised weeks ago onto the wall. This new room holds such promise – a space to relax, to paint, to organize, to wrap, to play and to read amongst the treetops – and with the impending winter season upon us its nice to have a spot like that indoors to do what we all enjoy most. And if I can knock a few more things off my list, you’ll surely find me there.