Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Down-Sizing

We’re having a discussion about taking down the Christmas tree so that we can roll up the old living room rug and replace it with the beautiful new living room rug David’s parents bought us.

“Jabber,” I say, trying out my latest tactic--playing up the “responsible big brother helper-type person” role, “would you like to use your new vacuum cleaner on the old rug before we roll it up?” My parents bought each of our children a small vacuum cleaner for Christmas, a sort of “for the love of God, will somebody clean something in that house?” move, I guess. So far I love it.

“Sure!” he says, full of enthusiasm for the job. “I will!”

Monkey very helpfully delivers “The Big Boss,” which is how we’re referring to the rug sweeper, versus “The Little Boss,” which is how we indicate the Dustbuster. I cringe as the handle very nearly misses several breakable entities around the house.

“Great! Now that Daddy took the Christmas tree down, we can get started."

“Wait.” Jabber fixes me with a serious look.

He stands up beside his spot at the table as though he is answering a question for an old-fashioned school-teacher. “What will you be doing to my Fort?” he asks.

The Fort has taken over the living room in the past few weeks. It started as the old play pen (that I’m not sure has ever, in the course of two boys, been successfully utilized in its intended manner) tipped on its side in front of the fireplace. In this capacity, it serves two purposes: with a couple of blankets draped over it and some pillows inside, it is a comfy little cubby for one or two boys to enjoy some quiet time, and also: it keeps the Monkey out of the fireplace.

Beneath the fort, an old yoga mat cut to fit covers the mess of the hearth, with the bricks that come loose under Monkey’s inquisitive fingers. A crate of books and a little table made out of a spool complete the little play area.

Except lately. It started with the addition of a sort of antechamber or perhaps just a mudroom. An old suitcase, tipped on its side, added a functional door. The rocking chair, along with the procuring of another old bed comforter, provided a separate wing for entertaining each other with feats of Monster Truck daring and other such amusements.

Two dining room chairs also occasionally sneak into the construction, forming "tunnels" with a private deck for each boy. On several occasions we have eaten dinner in shifts in order to preserve this fine architecture.

“You’re not going to take it apart, are you, Mom?” asks Jabber now, still standing earnestly beside his chair.

“Just a little down-sizing.”

“Down-sizing? What’s that?”

“Sizing down, basically,” offers David.

“It sounds like getting smaller!” says Jabber, his voice gaining volume. “I don’t like that sound! It sounds like you mean you’re going to take it apart! Are you taking my Fort apart???”

“Think of it as streamlining,” I say.


“Narrowing down your Fort to the bulk of peak efficiency.”


“Well, only temporarily. A little post-holiday down-sizing.”

“A-HA! So you ARE going to take it apart!”

And he storms off to throw his little body in front of the bulldozers.

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