Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Desk Cleaning (Addendum)

Photographic proof of order
I imagine some who read my post yesterday turned up their noses in disbelief.

Really? Coupons from 2003? Hundreds of printed-off recipes? BABY TEETH?

I'm not a Hoarder, really. The problem with this corner of the House on the Corner is that mixed among the recipes for Impossible Pie and the dozens of honor roll clippings were concrete memories.

The autograph of Buck O'Neal, who happened to be in the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum the day we toured it and happily signed a brochure for the baseball-crazy men in my family.
A work of art, handily labeled in case the subject matter was not immediately clear. (Oh, if only Picasso had been so thoughtful.)
Gift coupons from Boys too young to have cash to buy gifts. When I received them I had no trouble reading the inscription inside the card; as I cleaned it was a little more difficult because I think I had something in my eye.
These are things that we will do. These are coupons.
A cherished award, and a mother's day card.

This morning I was talking with a co-worker whose oldest son has just entered his teenage years.

"I don't even know him," she said. "This child, the one we've loved since we knew he was going to be born, and have cherished and taught to be the best person he possibly can--who is this person I don't even like any more?"

I reassured her that each of my four Boys went through a year when they were strangers to me. They were all unlikable in a different way (Mr. Surly, meet Mr. Uncooperative. Oh, hi, Mr. Cries-All-The-Time! And when did you get here, Mr. Eye-Rollingly Contemptuous?) but my mom had promised me that this stage would only last one calendar year. She was right, but for one year of each of my beloved offsprings' lives, I clung to that promise like a barnacle to a rock.

Eventually each would come back, and when they returned from their voyages in Unlikable Land, each was different. He had become the first stage of the man he would someday be, rather than the child he had been.

Cleaning off the desk reminded me of the children they were, and how much I loved those children. But it also reminded me of the men they are, and much as I love my clean desk, that was the best thing about the day.


  1. Oh I love this post.... it made me cry (that's always a good thing). Love the part "eventually each would come back....". Just lovely and so true. Thank you for that. And on my to-do list today is to clean out all the papers from the kids that I've stored away (they're bursting out of the cupboard!). So looking forward to it!

  2. This is such a relief to read. My eldest just turned 13 and has turned into Mr. Eye-Rolling Contemptuous. I've been counting years...but maybe I only need to count to one? That would be so nice.

  3. Oh, thank you! I also have 4 boys and right now Mr. Cries-All-The-Time is living in the house. Luckily, Mr. Slyly-Passively-Disobey, Mr. Oppositionally-Defiant & Mr. Eye-Rolling Contemptuous have all vacated. Well, they only show up occasionally now.