Weekend escape

Sunday morning, circa 1970-something: Mom and Dad are propped up in bed, quilted in newspaper sections. Inserts and weekend circulars litter the carpet on Dad’s side. Mom’s working her way through the A-section – occasionally reading out loud — while Dad speeds through business and sports. Coffee mugs teeter bedside along with toast remains – scorched crusts from our incinerating toaster oven. I crowd the south end of the bed, studying the comics before embossing Snoopy and his doghouse onto a flattened wedge of silly-putty.

Sunday morning, February 2010: Swap Martin and me for my mom and dad. Then subtract the newspaper, coffee and toast. Add another kid…then remove both boy and girl as they thump to the floor and disappear to worship cartoon network.

We’re lingering amidst a pile of pillows even though it’s late morning and the horses are surely circling their stalls, manufacturing more manure by the minute. What awaits downstairs is even more daunting — an oil spill of toys and a deafening tv; someone has discovered the volume button on the remote control. And Martin has fessed up to one tactical error: early in the morning when he turned on the TV, he offered Hadley a bowl of cereal. With milk. I imagine the couch, polka-dotted with soggy Cherrios.

Still, neither of us budge from the rumpled bed. Instead Martin consults a manual. “I need four red ones.”

“Square or rectangular?”


I paw through a mound of Lego shards; hundreds of glossy blocks clatter together like shattered glass.

A half hour earlier, the Boy deposited his box of Legos as a peace offering at the end of our bed. Then he vanished. Now Martin and I are constructing a house for no one but ourselves. On the astroturf-colored foundation, we snap together blue and white walls, add two windows (“good cross ventilation,” Martin notes), a front door and red, blocky shingles.

“What the hell is that?” I ask. “That gang plank jutting out of the roof?”

Martin studies the diagram and his construction. “I think it’s supposed to connect with a garage but the house takes up too much space.”

We need to put the lid on the tupperware and face the chaos. Venture through the mud and snow melt and feed the cats, the horses and the dog. And dress the kids. But it’s easier to stay in bed and build our Lego house. A bright, colorful, Cheerios-free zone, where vacuuming and laundry will never exist. With windows and good cross ventilation.