I am sitting at the dining room table. I am joined by a dirty pot-bellied teddy bear, some books, a marker and pencil, a sippy cup, a Lego catalog, a Christmas card and a vase of roses commemorating Sici’s first dance recital.

The chair next to mine is covered in green streamers. A fern frond that decorated Papa’s Father’s Day throne has fallen to the floor next to scraps of paper and a smattering of crumbs.

Upstairs, J and Lala have quiet time in their bedrooms.

J clunks like an old car, sharing an off-the-cuff story with her stuffed friend students — the ones who yesterday learned fractions and prepared last minute Father’s Day cards.

Lala squeaks in the highest voice she can muster while still sounding firm, which usually means she’s speaking for Lamby, the blanket who holds court.

Downstairs, Sici listens to “Encyclopedia Brown” on a skipping CD and attempts to determine with Encyclopedia the answers to mysteries while Bugs Meany and a cast of others do their best to thwart the young boy detective. I can imagine Sici’s concern that she’ll miss key clues under the CD’s skipping, “Waaa-waaaa-waaaa-waaaa.”

In the entry way two giant blue fans that the carpet cleaners used to dry our rugs last Friday await pick-up and a nearly knee-high pile of shoes next to the stairs sit ready for a trip back home to the third floor.

It is 2 pm, and I have cleaned the kitchen three times. I am trying to build up the strength for another go at it. I take out a load of recycling, pass by some crabbing traps left on our front porch by dear friends moving to the country’s middle and notice, not right away connecting the two, how much our street smells like the ocean.

For some reason, in the midst of my circling around piles and periodic attacks into their centers, instead of finishing what I’ve started, I decide to dump the diaper bag — the one that’s been sitting unused, minding it’s own business behind the doors of our armoire for months. I cannot explain my state of mind, but I start emptying, pulling out the wads and wads of stuff, piling it on our entry floor.

It’s not like I don’t have anything else to do.

Before I know it, I sit among a pile, and think I’ll just throw it all out. Costume jewelry. Finger puppets. Hair clips, headbands and rubber bands, leftover napkins from the coffee shop. Band-aids. Dried out wipes. Reams of pocket-sized crayon packs. (I throw out all the crayons but the Crayolas. The imitations are just not worth keeping, I tell you.)

When I pick up pieces of mess here or there, I nearly expect them to jump to life with the people who live here, clattering like an old car, talking in an unnaturally high voice, skipping like a scratched CD.

But they don’t. And I go about my business, talking in a kind, firm voice, holding court over these piles.

I’m a softy, but I can still tell them who’s boss.

Linking up with “Just Write” at The Extraordinary Ordinary today.

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