Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Muddy Room

For the first time in months, my now-two-year-old went to bed crying last night.

“Room. . .muddy” she whimpered.

“Muddy?” I wondered to myself.

Muddy applies to puddles that may gather anywhere on the ground.

Muddy applies to large patches of dirt that might get her new white sneakers dirty.

Now, her room might have been messy, but it certainly was clean.

So how did the term “muddy” apply to her precious space?

I had been busy at work rearranging furniture all evening. In order to fit a new (“new” for us, anyway) book shelf into her room, I had had to move half of the other pieces around, throwing books and toys out of my way as I worked.

Although I was not satisfied with any kind of finality to the layout, I had to bring the evening’s work to an end so that she could go to bed. So I straightened out her floor and turned the crib so that it would be jutting out into the middle of her room, rather than against the wall, as it had been for her entire life thus far.

This would not do at all. As she looked confusedly out of her crib, I tried to see the world through her perspective. She was on an island in a sea of disorder. Previously, being “attached” to the wall, the crib had been more like a peninsula. A mess could be overlooked from this position.

She had been able to sleep successfully at relatives’ homes while visiting, but she understood those were temporary places of residence. I had disturbed her little castle, the place she had come to understand was “hers”.

But it was too late to start rearranging again, so I did my best to soothe her and she had to go to bed a little upset. This morning she woke up cheerily, and I was able to set things to right before her naptime.

She is not upset at all right now. But neither does she sound as if she is sleepy. She is having a regular ball in her crib! Back in her peninsula, things are safe and orderly now, albeit a bit different. They make sense, and she is playing out her own little drama of the change without the necessity of moving.

“The Lord is king; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad.”
Psalm 97:1

Sand Shadows is a painting of a Long Island beach by Rick Mundy at

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