Five minutes after eight in the evening is probably the most peaceful time of our day. The reason being we put the kids to bed at eight, only after which we can finally fully relax. As the couch envelopes our now partially comatose bodies, we collect what few thoughts we are able to compose and look around at what is remaining of our living room, which now resembles an artillery range. Literally dozens on toys speckle what was once a spacious living area. We dare not walk barefoot through this minefield, as it would be easier to tear the kids from our souls than their little toys from the soles of our feet. Most nights we clean up (a term I use in the most John-Kerry-liberal sense), knowing explicitly that as our kids open their eyelids, their battalion of toys will spring from the storage places (I have never been able to actually calculate the number of storage places we have) to eagerly await their owner's arrival. Sometimes we don't notice the toys, as they cleverly cloak themselves beneath the wardrobe of clothes that snow-blankets our floor. I don't believe any of our kids' shoes have spent the night in the same place twice. It would take the Queen of England's servants to keep our house perpetually clean, and even then, I doubt they could keep up with the busy bees. Our kids make their decision on what toy to play with based on what toy we just put away. When they get out a toy, somehow the molecules of the toy interact with the molecules of the air to reproduce like lonely rabbits. Thus, our floors continually have more toys on them than air. You might think that the toy-zone layer will act as a buffer against dust, dirt, and food particles. You would be right, except that you are wrong. Our kids don't so much as eat food as they do throw it on the floor and hide it in every nook and cranny. Our floors could support the entire rat population of greater Trenton, NJ. Sometimes I find food in a corner somewhere that we have never bought. This is not to say that we are bad house-cleaners; our kids are exceptional house-uncleaners.
So as we become one with the davenport at five minutes after eight, we reflect on the state of our house, and we thank God for the blessings we have. We are blessed to able to provide toys to entertain our kids, clothes to warm and dry them , and food to strengthen and nourish them. Mostly though, we are blessed to have kids, and every Cherrio, Goldfish, Thomas the Tank Engine, Pull-up, sock, and pair of shorts reminds us of this. When we are able to actually clean-up, our house looks unnervingly vacant. I am happy to find a toy car in our bed, a deck of "Go Fish" cards in our refidgerator, and a half-eaten fruit bar in our couch. When I have to spend the night at work, I miss these things, and the things these things represent. As I become older, and the memories of today blow away with the wind, I hope the memories I never loose are those of the shoes by the window.