The Latest: Art and Hope | “Crap” | Tiny Parties

Hey there,

Anyone else have whiplash from this long, strange January?

We started with so much hope, a fresh page. Then, worsening COVID numbers (including the illness of one of my loved ones, who has since recovered), violence at the Capitol, impeachment.

Last week, I felt an unfamiliar sensation: hope. The week was rightly dominated by raves for Amanda Gorman (you’ve seen the 22-year-old poet’s spellbinding recitation of her incredible poem “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration, right?) After ugliness and mayhem earlier in the month, Amanda Gorman brought true patriotism (accountable, aspirational patriotism), goodness, hope, and dignity, all wrapped up in a sunshine-yellow coat, and shone it all out on those same Capitol steps. And that, my friends, is why we need art. ❤️

(Oh, and HUMOR. Yeah, it’s kind of jumped the shark at this point, but it felt good to enjoy some pure laughter at sillier and sillier memes starring Bernie Sanders in his mittens, didn’t it?)

The Latest: “Crap”

Ahem. While we’re talking about the power of words: Did you know, it is more effective to refrain from referring to your children’s widely strewn belongings as “crap.”

I, a natural slob who aspires to neatness, cannot own too many belongings. I simply can’t manage lots of stuff. That, in turn, means I am constantly trying to declutter the excess items that put me over the edge into mess. And it does help.

But then there are my children’s things. I’ve written before about the endless influx of junk items and my doubts that Marie Kondo could fix my house without decluttering the children themselves. I know it’s hard to believe, but my children did not read these articles and clean up their act.

Which is how I find myself losing my chill every once in a while and yelling, “Get all this CRAP out of here!” Crap is about as sweary as my kids hear me get, so they know to scurry around and pick up their strewn and crumpled whatevers before Mom comes even more undone. (Before I lose my crap?)

But—file this under Obvious Things—it turns out barking about “crap” is not, in fact, very effective. Lately, here is what actually seems to be WORKING (and is NICER):

  • Instead of, “*Sigh* Can you clean up your lunch dishes and school stuff?”, I’m having more success with “Can you make the dining room table look pretty for dinner? (Note my restraint about the lunch stuff! It’s 5 p.m.!)
  • Instead of “You have too much stuff. You have got to get rid of some things,” I’m having more luck with “Can you think about which things aren’t so much your favorites anymore? It’s so crowded in this closet, and I want you to be able to really enjoy your favorites! Let’s make them really easy to find.”

OK, so this is a small improvement. But there is still plenty of mess (and more nagging/reminding than I’d like). I need your help: How do you get your kids to manage their belongings 1) neatly and 2) cheerfully? (#2 may be too much to ask?!)

The Latest: Tiny Parties

Obviously there are no REAL parties, and winter is currently showing me swatches of Endless Gray, so we’re declaring random parties. Inauguration Day? USA fruit skewers (see below) and a chocolate baking contest. Cleveland Browns in the playoffs? A cheese puff vs. Cheeto taste test. We just feel like it? Flowers from the grocery store and a cheerful, summery dinner table runner.

Do what you’ve got to do, right? Let me know how you’re getting along these days. I like hearing from you.



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