Fatherhood is toying with me

This weekend will mark my third Father’s Day as a dad and in a relatively a short amount of time I’ve gone from no kids to one kid to two kids.  Parenthood has been great, amazing, exhausting, stressful, fun, expensive … you name it.

Heck, can something be described as poopy?

Because if something can be described as poopy I’ll say that parenthood has also been thoroughly poopy.  I won’t go into details, but it’s amazing/terrifying to see how much poop these cute little buggers can crank out.

But of all the not-so-serious/non-sentimental things being a dad has been over the past few years I’d have to say that on a day-to-day basis it’s messy.  Chaotically messy.  Out of control, what the hell happened to my tidy, comfy home messy.

My 2-year-old son is an absolute blast but he’s also a destructive force of nature.  My wife or I can easily spend more than a half hour putting all his toys away after he goes to bed at night and within 5 minutes of getting up in the morning he seems to have almost everything scattered all over the house again.

You can put my little man in the middle of a perfectly clean living room and in the time it takes to walk to the kitchen to get him a snack he makes the room look like it was ransacked by an angry, roving gang of house robbers.

When you get right down to it, on most days of the week our house looks like Toys R Us after a 9.0 earthquake.

So where did all these damn toys come from?  Let’s face it, he’s our first kid and our parents’ first grandchild so he’s just a wee bit spoiled.  Or as my wife might say, he’s not spoiled he’s loved.  He’s loved to the point of having toys in every corner of the house to play with/throw all over the place.  It’s a miracle that no one has broken a leg tripping over some of this stuff.

You want to know pain?  Step on a Lego while you’re not wearing any shoes or socks.  That’s pain.  It gets even better when you go down in a heap, put your hand out to brace yourself and come down on some more Legos.  There’s a split second where you absolutely despise toys.

I have to admit that I don’t remember having that many toys at any point in my life when I was growing up.  But my son has a major advantage over me because my wife has a large family and we have a lot of friends.  Every birthday party and Christmas delivers a tidal wave of toys for him.

I grew up with a small family and my parents never invited their friends to my birthday parties.  Thanks to that my accumulation of toys was relatively modest.

Let’s not leave out one of the biggest reasons my home is overrun with toys for my son: Me. Yeah, I’m totally guilty of being a little out of control in spoiling my pint-sized pal.  If he takes an interest in something I go nuts.

Die cast cars? Check. Puzzles? Check.  Books? Check.  Balls?  Check.  Why have one or two when you could have a few dozen and watch him light up every time you give him something new?

Heck, if I see something he might like I buy it.  That’s how we ended up with an inflatable toddler t-ball set … which he happens to love.

With all those toys to play with our house always explodes into a complete, utter mess.  Truth be told, I’m actually afraid of what the place will look like when my 6-month-old daughter is mobile enough to join my son on his daily tornado-like spins through all his playthings.

One of my biggest headaches are the Leap Frog refrigerator magnets that end up being thrown into every corner of the kitchen and dining room.  My son must have some sort of grudge against the alphabet because he really wings those magnets around.

Sometimes I try and pick up his stuff at night but more often than not I get lazy and leave everything all over the place.  After a while you can’t help but feel like there’s no point cleaning up the mess when it’s right back in your face as soon as your kid energetically rises from his crib, ready to gleefully attack the day.

Why crawl around picking up dozens of puzzle pieces, die cast cars and magnets at the end of the night when it’s so much easier and enjoyable to kick back on the couch with a gin and tonic, surfing the Web on your iPad while watching TV?  Seems like a no-brainer to me.

But of course, taking the lazy way out usually backfires because I absolutely hate it when the house is a mess.  I can’t even begin to describe how much it drives me up the wall.

It just didn’t seem like there was a way out of this neverending avalanche of toys … until last weekend when I saw the light: LESS TOYS IN THE HOUSE = LESS CLEANING AT THE END OF THE DAY.

Brilliant!  I was all fired up as I basked in the warm glow of my own genius.

I don’t think any human being since the beginning of time has been that excited to have an idea since some wise old cave man invented the wheel a billion years ago.  As far as I was concerned this whole “less toys is less cleaning” plan was the biggest thing since the discovery of fire.

So I made a big effort on Saturday night after my son went to bed and mixed cleaning with purging.  More than a dozen puzzles were cut back to about six.   Dozens and dozens of little cars were cut back to about 10.  Some sturdy but cheap toys were thrown in the back yard and a bunch of small, annoying toys were banished to the garage.

And you know what?  My son hasn’t even noticed the difference.  No complaints, no tantrums, no sadness, no confused searches for anything.  He’s perfectly happy.  And he’s not the only one.

At the end of the day I’m happier because cleaning up after my son now takes just a few minutes.  One of these days I’ll take some more toys out to the garage and bring a few back in to give him a change of pace but the days of having toys covering almost every square foot of the house are long gone, a distant memory of a clutter-filled time that won’t be missed.

So even though it’s a little early and I’m jumping the gun by a few days I’m going to take a moment to say happy clutter-free Father’s Day to me.

2 thoughts on “Fatherhood is toying with me

  1. Nice article. I remember when my daughter was in the single-digit age range and her toys were EVERYWHERE! I was divorced and remarried back then, and when she went to visit her dad one summer, I cleaned out her room and toy stashes. I gave it all to The Bay Area Crisi Nursury (a great charity BTW).

    Unfortunately, my daughter was about 7 at the time and when she came home, she wasn’t at all happy that her room looked nice, she wanted her toys back. Every once in a while she reminds me of how upset she was when I did that–and she’s going to be 40 in November. You’re doing it when they are very young, so you may not have that problem when they get older, but she says it was a trauma for her at age 7.

    Her solution with her own children (ages 5 girl, and 3 boy) is to put them in containers in the garage and rotate them into the house. That seems to work, and I believe you said you are considering the same ploy. As long as you have enough storage space in the garage, it should work like a charm.

    BTW, I’m liking Bob Melvin a lot. I went to the game on Tuesday night, and the difference in the body language of the players is amazing. They are so much more positive and I saw no more slumped shoulders in the dugout. Melvin is all over the place talking to everyone. What a change!! And now they’ve won two games in a row. I think they’ll turn it around. Too bad the change wasn’t made earlier before they dug themselves into such a hole.

    Take care, Jason. Keep writing! And rooting for the A’s.


  2. Thanks Bee, great to hear from you. The A’s are looking a lot better with Melvin in charge and you can definitely see there’s a lot more life and fight to the team which is really encouraging. It’s hard to believe the club is only 6 games out of first place despite all of their struggles. If they can get on a roll and cut that to 3 or 4 games by the All-Star Break they may be able to make a serious run at the playoffs in the second half. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

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