He works steadily stuffing six pillows and four blankets into a heap between the two couches.
To me, it looks like a ginormous pillow and blanket explosion that I’m going to be tripping over in about 20 minutes after it’s been abandoned.
To him, it’s a carefully constructed avalanche that he will soon attempt to summit, and then invite his brothers to join him on as he rolls from high to low elevation in a huge rumble.
He’s making something, Mama.
“Who left this toy explosion over here?”
I’m holding a precariously stacked armful of clean unfolded laundry and I’m en-route to the folding station (aka my queen sized bed). Wooden blocks and Duplo cars and trucks are strewn everywhere at my feet.
I raise my foot to swipe it all to the side so I can blaze a safe path.
“I’m playing with those!!!” a panicked little voice cries out.
“Don’t step on it, Mama! You see, this car is driving here . . . over those huge logs that fell down on the road. And then the red car goes smash into the blue one.” He does a quick scenario reenactment for me knowing he has pleaded his case as well as he could.
“Don’t you see it Mama?”
I look again. I can visualize his verbal road map this time. Each car is lined up strategically beside a corresponding block. The square blocks are loaded in the back of the blue pickup truck, and the cylinders are stacked in the brown pick up truck prepared for the inevitable smash that is about to occur.
I’m making something, Mama.
I’m trying to load the dishwasher and cook the chicken on the stove without transforming it into “Cajun” due to lack of attention. The clock keeps moving, and so do four little stools at my feet.
“Why are you bringing blankets in the kitchen? The stove is on! Flames, fabric, stress, concern, anxiety! All things related to those very things . . . ”
“I’m making a tunnel cave, Mom.”
All of the stools are lined up in a long row with blankets draped over them, successfully blocking every drawer that exists in my kitchen.
But in his world . . .
He is embarking on a dangerous journey. He is steps away from bravely leading his little brother on a hunting expedition through the mountainous region of somewhere awesome.
“I just really need to get into this drawer bud, come on, can’t you do this in the living-room?” Chicken burning. Fire alarm potential. Time constraints.
I’m making something, Mama!
His play is work. And he’s dedicated and creative and clever.
He’s determined and resourceful, and good at working amidst his Martha-like-mother who is always trying to pick up the stuff that looks like it’s just lying around ‘making a mess.’
“Can I tell you something Mama?”
It’s dangerously easy for me to go “OK, yup, mmm, yes . . . ” without actually listening. Not because I don’t care, but just because I’m busy, I’m also making something.
But to him, it’s his world. And it’s important. His somethings are just as important as my somethings. They’re just different.
He can’t articulate it yet, but I can feel him saying these words with his big blue eyes that look up at me and search for vocabulary to justify his mess-making play routine.
“Don’t you see it too? Isn’t it amazing? You can be a part of it. I’d love for you to join me.
Would you mind affirming me and acknowledging my efforts?
And then Mom, watch me play? Just for a minute. It makes me feel smart and clever and creative, and I like that. You can cook your chicken first, I’ll still be here, and I’ll wait for you. OK?”
He’s just making something, Mama.