This is an example of how my four-year old daughters clean their (shared) room. Apparently, when I ask the girls to clean up, it translates as, “Scoop as many things as you can into your arms and dump them into your bed.”
And, on the floor is a giraffe in a Disney princess dress, a backpack filled with My Little Ponies, puzzle pieces, plastic dinosaurs and a Lightning McQueen flashlight – and naked Aladdin and Flynn Rider dolls (except for shoes.)
In the living room, there’s a guitar in the doll house, an Eeyore in Cinderella’s wedding carriage and a stuffed lobster from Cape Cod sitting on the couch wearing Tinker Bell’s wings.
It’s like a preschool version of Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night,” complete with a pink flamingo (named Flower) and (an Ariel party) pool.
When they’re in the middle of their mess-making, it drives me crazy. Especially when I’m trying to restore some semblance of order and sanity, like when we have company, or at 2 AM when I can’t sleep and go into one of those organization frenzies. Why do they have to take ALL the toys out, I complain to myself. Can’t they just play with a couple of things at a time?
But this isn’t the way their imaginations work. In their world, that pile of Squinkies on the coffee table is cereal for their dolls and stuffed animals, and Mr. Potato Head’s pirate hat is a bowl. Having so many toys in the bed that there’s barely room for a kid isn’t uncomfortable; it’s a sleepover.
Their princesses ride puppies and giraffes to the royal ball. And, it’s perfectly acceptable to have a pool party in your bed, where the girls are wearing ball gowns instead of bikinis. (The occasional lion or teddy bear is also welcome, until of one of the girls decides he’s too big for the pool and a fight breaks out.)
I love this world, where creativity reigns over multitasking and the rush of the day-to-day grown-up routine. I love how, when my kids are asleep or otherwise occupied, I can sneak in and get a glimpse of how their innocent minds work. On one hand, I probably need to work harder to teach them how to keep their play space neat. On the other, I’m grateful for the reminder of how much fun it is to dream. The day will come all too soon where they’ll outgrow their toys – and I’m going to miss this a lot more than I miss walking through the living room without tripping on a Zhu-Zhu pet. Who’s wearing a tiara. Of course.