We spent a good portion of the day today at our friends’ the Spositos apartment. The kids started out taking a Spanish class, and once they were settled with their teacher, Kristin (Mom Sposito) walked over to where I was sitting with my second cup of coffee, put down a bunch of stuff she was carrying and said, “So, do you have these piles of things in your house? I hate piles of stuff like this.”
Ah yes, the random pile of stuff. Not to be confused with the kitchen drawer, which tends to collect things like pencils, nail clippers, rubber bands, scissors, etc. No, the random pile of stuff is (I believe) mostly a kid-based phenomenon.
Kristin’s pile of stuff consisted of 3 half-used Santa shaped notepads that, she said, appear from the Christmas decoration box every year, get shuffled around from place to place and then eventually put back in the box. She threw them in the trash. Colorful pencils, a drawing, a notebook and some stickers were also in the pile.
Ever since we returned from Indiana, I have been glaring at a random pile of stuff that has taken up residence on our window seat. From a distance it looks a lot like trash. Up close it might still look a lot like trash to the undiscerning eye, but woe to the person who up and throws it all away. I guarantee if that happens there will be an urgent request, less than 24 hours later, for “that white piece of paper with the number written on it! I JUST SAW IT. It was over there somewhere, next to the window. Where is it?!”
Therein lies the problem. There is no designated place for things that wind up in the random pile of stuff. That’s why it’s random. Ripped pieces of paper with some sort of pencil drawing, a catalog from Lands End which the kids have ‘decorated’ by drawing mustaches on all the people, a broken crayon, a piece of yellow string, a pencil with no eraser (“But it’s my Favorite!”), a dried out plastic container of paint such as come with those paint by numbers sets and possibly an actual book that has been missing for months because no one thought to look for it in the random pile of stuff.
Which brings us to the three rules of random piles of stuff:
Rule Number One of the random pile of stuff is that no one ever looks at it or needs anything from it until the pile is moved and/or thrown away, at which time every item that was in the random pile of stuff becomes something the children cannot survive even another minute without.
Rule Number Two of the random pile of stuff is that it regenerates, often overnight. I blame my lazy house elves, but it may just mean we have too much crap lying around.
And Rule Number Three of the random pile of stuff is that it will almost always contain one item of real importance, like a check, a telephone bill or the above-mentioned ‘lost’ book.
One time I found a necklace in a random pile of stuff. It was inside one of my kids’ socks, wedged between some original ‘art’ and a Starbucks pastry bag with a face drawn on it in crayon.