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lost and found: on PowPow and loving things

Last night we lost Harvey's PowPow. I had spent an hour sewing two very minuscule ties, one for each of Harvey and Zion's PowPow dolls, and when it came time to fit the elastic we could only find Zion's Powey. It was getting close to bed time, so I assured Harvey I'd look around the house. The boys went to bed and I looked. And looked and looked and looked.

I found an overdue library book under the couch. I found A LOT of little legos. I didn't find PowPow.

Even thought I was pretty sure he came home from Whole Foods, I went to bed a little panicked.

I spend more time panicking about PowPow then Harvey ever does. Dan makes fun of me, Harvey doesn't care that much, but if I lose track of PowPow it's like we're at DEFCON 5. I like to say it's because I'm the mother and it's my job to keep track of things. It's my job to protect my child from emotional pain.

But that's not even true. It should be his job to keep track of his things, especially if he's going to cart them everywhere all over the world for heaven's sake. And it shouldn't be my job to shield him from emotional trauma. How is that a way to teach him resiliency? How could that prepare him for life?

In truth I'm using PowPow to try to fix my own "issues."

When I was four I lost my favorite lovey, a stuffed bear named teddy. We were driving to New York to visit my grandparents and I had to bring teddy along. Of course, there were a lot of other things I wanted to bring along too: my magnetic writing pad, a dozen books, five other stuffed animals whose names I couldn't remember, along with some random shit I picked off the floor of my bedroom. I walked down the hall with a huge paper bag filled to bursting. My mother frowned and remarked forebodingly "that looks like a lot to keep track of."

I remember the big paper bag at my feet in the car. My toys and books and games spilling out everywhere. Candyland game pieces rolling under the seats. I had everything I could ever imagine wanting.

At some point between Massachusetts and New York I opened the door and teddy fell out. I didn't even realize with all that mess on the floor of the car. Too much visual clutter. I never saw teddy again.

Of course, for a four-year-old this was devastating, but doubly so because I had no one to blame but myself. My mother had frowned at that bag of toys and washed her hands of the matter. It was all on me.

It was my greed that made me lose teddy.

And so now as an adult I keep a careful watch of the toys, the precious ones, while secretly culling the things I can't stand. I walk around with a trash-bag when the kids are out, clearing the visual clutter, as if disposing of things will somehow save me from my own sin of greed. I think of this as a spiritual act, something called simplicity, when in reality it is a hege against my own fear of chaos, of uncertainty, of loss. This is a fucked-up version of minimalism, I know, where I have fewer things not to dis-attach from things, but because certain place-holder things are impossibly SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT.

Meanwhile, greed is something I can't stand in my children. When Harvey tries to steal Zion's dessert, or hoard all the trains, or tell me what he wants for HIS birthday, I turn into some kind of monster nun. "GREED IS A SIN!" I scream. "I WILL NOT HAVE THIS DISGUSTING SIN IN MY HOME!"

Emotional clutter.

So last night, after cleaning the downstairs and not finding anything, I prayed.

God, I said, forgive me for losing teddy. Forgive me for my own greed. And I pray that you'll protect Harvey's heart. Thank you for making him not like me. Thank you for making him him able to move on, to deal with loss, to be a person who doesn't ascribe human emotions to inanimate objects such that he feels a responsibility to them because he has trouble dealing with responsibility to real people.

This morning Dan found PowPow. He was outside on the lawn.

I imagine a magical room where the toys change every day, a heaven shaped after the play space at Whole Foods. In this heaven I sit peacefully and watch my kids play. They play with abandon. They see the toys there, the toys that are new each time they enter, and they love them wildly and passingly. They enjoy the shit out of each toy until it's gone. They enjoy them more even, more violently and more freely, knowing that none of the toys really belongs to them. Knowing that in a day they will be gone.

Holy crap, that is a metaphor for life, isn't it?

where he belongs

Today on Good Friday may we all love our little ones in their little ties. For as long as they get to be little. For as long as we get to love them.

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