Amazing Parents

Sometimes it\’s AMAZING. Sometimes it\’s just A MAZE.

The infinite track on the living room floor

When my oldest son was younger a friend of ours gave us a huge set of Brios that his three sons had sadly outgrown. We played with it for a while and then it got shoved into the corner of the room where it sat anonymously for a long, long time. As I type that, I am reminded of a man I once married, but that isn’t important now. What I wanted to say was how we brought it back out a while ago and rekindled the joy of that set.

We dumped out the big blue bucket and sorted through all the ramps, curves, straight aways, and forks. We stacked up the signs until we needed them. We stared at the pieces silently. And then we began. We took one piece and then another and then another and then one more. We just started laying out the pieces on the floor with no rhyme or reason whatsoever. It turned and twisted and went along as if it had a life, a will, of it’s own. There was a freedom in playing with it like that. Because no matter how many times you dumped out that bucket, those pieces made a brand new world each and every time. A random pretzel of where my train would go.

But somewhere I lost that joy. Somehow, some time, I don’t know what happened. Maybe I just flipped out. I don’t know. But somewhere I began to plan it out. I kept trying to make a better track. The random piece went back in the bucket in exchange for one that made me feel better about where my train would go.

Eventually it became the family joke. Mama up on Saturday morning at 5 am on her hands and knees on the living room rug, constructing the “perfect track” that I just knew I could build. It had to have every loop with a beginning and an end. There could be no dead ends, no loops without reason. My train could not be bothered with anything less. It had places to go, and I just knew I could figure it out. I remember I kept silently saying to myself that no train track factory would put a set out there without having each piece in that set for a reason. The perfect track had to be a possibility. Otherwise, there was no point in playing.

My kids, who used to play with me, suddenly sat around the room, far out of it’s reach, watching me with brows furrowed, wondering why I scolded them for touching it. I just needed it right. I needed it. And nobody understood that. I just wanted that stupid track to make sense. In fact, I dreamed about it, that beautiful, elusively perfect track.

Well, you know how it goes. The train track and all it’s pieces are back in the corner, in a bucket, waiting for it’s resurrection. For someone to notice it again. It’s a sad track right now. Lonely and without meaning.

Sometimes as I pass by that bucket in the corner of the living room, I secretly wonder to myself, “What did you do? ” Have I taken a perfectly good toy and, because of my unrealistic expectations, turned it into something that can never be loved or appreciated for what it simply is? Whatever that may be? When did I first begin to “need” it to make sense? And why? Did I really feel like my life was that out of control? Was I really that unhappy? Unrealistic? Did I really think I could build it like that? I guess I did.

Sigh.

Why do things have to be so dang frustrating? Why can’t the train track factories just manufacture perfect sets? For the love of all things holy, why? Don’t they know that some of us need it to be different? That we are tired and confused and we just still believe we can make it better?

I suppose this is the moment I realize that this is all figurative and that what I’m writing is in fact relative to my own life and not about a toy at all. That it doesn’t always make sense. And that the path that I find myself on cannot always be planned out and manipulated into something that looks and feels comfortable. There are loops that spin me around and change my direction for reasons that I cannot see at the time. And yes, there will even be dead ends when I least expect them. I suppose you want me to “get it” about now: There is no perfect track.

Ok, fine. You win. I get it.

(But to this very day, I still think I can build a better track.)

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May 30, 2008 - Posted by | Soap Box

1 Comment »

  1. omg. That song is the PERFECT song. Favourite part- “cheap domestic beer.”

    Comment by danifesto | June 14, 2008 | Reply


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