“Just follow the stank.”

Otober 8, 2014
Notable Stats
Dirty Socks per Crumb Mile (DSPCM) – The number of dirty laundry items between the bathroom and the theoretical laundry basket. This number can be infinity once your child forgets he even has a laundry basket (which can be daily). 
Olfactory Disturbance Intensity (ODI) – The increase of unbearable scent as a function of how many articles of clothing are piling up in your child’s sleeping quarters. Once the clothes reach the ceiling, this number is measured in casualties or burnt nose hairs.

There must be a treasure buried somewhere in our house. If that is the case, then I thank our children for leaving a trail to it out of their dirty clothes. Strewn from door to door, there are clothes that grow from the floors that must have meaning. They must lead to something of value, I rationalize, so I will save my breathe since their college savings is apparently in a chest buried under the birch tree.

Then again, it isn’t only clothes, it is pencils, books, barrettes, and the occasional toothbrush that leads this road to nowhere. I have learned to translate what each item means to understand what I need to do as I follow the path.
Here is a simple key.
Socks – Follow the direction the toe is pointing.
Toothbrush – Immediately throw it away
Half-eaten cracker – Head North
Random pre-school art – Dig
Lego piece – Curse, then add it to the other 100 pieces in recycling.
Rainbow Loom rubber band – Exhale and sigh. Then find a raccoon whose hands are small enough to actually pick them up. 
To date, I have not found anything at all at the end of this path of stank. Nothing. But I have found that our son believes it to be a badge of honor. He has made it clear that it is not the destination, but the journey, and that we, as parents, should be honored to have walked alongside his creation. He is teaching us the power of enjoying the ride, that life is not about destinations, but soaking in the scenery along the way. Given that this only really applies if I am in a place like Europe, going from Big Ben to the Eiffel Tower. Somehow, I don’t think it applies if I am traveling from the Connecticut state garbage dump to the New Jersey state garbage dump and stopping at each waste treatment plant along the way. But apparently, our son thinks this should be a spiritual goal of ours.
I get it, the floor is close to those tiny little arms, that it is an effort to lift a sock up above your waist and drop it into the basket. It involves athleticism, time, effort, and a sense of hygiene. This is a lot to ask when there are more pressing matters like whether there is a safe way to somersault down a set of stairs. Worst case, you can always try and get your younger sisters to do your bidding. 
Unfortunately for the makers of the brick road of clothes, I have to intervene. Parents spend an inordinate amount of time picking things up. Even for children that want to be clean. We spend part of our evening straightening up the mess, putting stuff back in the right drawer, saving a Lego piece that represents a left eyebrow hair follicle on a King Kong replica. Problem is without that hair follicle being put back in the Lego basket,  King Kong will not have a soul (according to our son). So we have to find it. Correction. No, he has to find it.
It is circular of course. The people who can avoid freaking themselves out from their inability to locate important pieces to a game they want to play are the ones who lost the pieces in a stink puzzle of their own creation. The lost Candy Land piece is in your left sneaker, the missing hair to your doll is under your bookbag, your misplaced animal cracker is in between pages 25 and 26 of the book that has been on the bathroom floor for 4 weeks.
It is hard to make that connection for young children, that a cleaner environment will fix a lot of problems. Finding things, keeping things clean, not spraining an ankle on pajama bottoms when simply trying to pet the dog.
But until they figure it out, I do not need any more treasure finds. Especially since to date, all I have found at the end of their sludge rainbow is a one-way ticket back over the rainbow. No thanks. 
- Doug Glanville
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