Occasionally, I receive questions from my delightful readers seeking advice.
Much like Dear Abby, I am asked about relationships “My husband insists on leaving his dirty socks just outside of the hamper. Should I pick them up for him, or put them all under his pillow?” and job etiquette “My coworkers found my breast-pumping equipment under my desk; now what?” and shady conduct “My teenaged son and his friend were rummaging through the kitchen asking if we had any sulfur in the house; should I worry?”
I’m eager to help.
“Not to worry,” I replied, “unless his grades are falling drastically, this is only a 9th grade phase. Remind him that – whatever it is – it’s an outside activity.”
I attached an internet connection for the best deal on sulfur (Costco).
Recently, an avid reader was having troubles with her only child.
The trouble: her only child loves Lego.
“I’ve been trying to figure out how to organize and manage all our Legos. Any advice?”
Only Child has approximately a million little Lego pieces that mom has been trying to corral for years, Pinterest style, into tubs, cubbies, bags and bins.
She saved all the boxed sets together and kept all the boxes.
I have five kids.
I’ve had Legos in my house plants for over 20 years.
My over-six-foot-tall kids still beg for more.
“Yes,” I answered, “we keep them all in a closet and if the door shuts, we win! Seriously, just put a bed sheet out on the floor, dump the Legos on it to play, and when you’re done, dump them back into the tub and put them away.”
I considered the girlfriend I was talking to and added, “Most of the fun of Legos is digging through the heaps and discovering little bits of treasure.”
I didn’t mention that some of the treasure is actually fuzzy lollipop sticks and Barbie shoes and old melty Jolly Ranchers and occasional toenails.
I could feel her frowning in disbelief that I, the Queen of Chaos Control, would recommend such reckless abandon.
So I sent her a real-time photo. Straight out of my den.
“I think I like your bed sheet idea,” she said after a moment.
“I kept them in sets but Only Child keeps pulling out various pieces to make her own thing. I guess that’s what it’s all about – getting creative.”
I wanted to tell her that The Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about, but instead I replied, “Exactly so. Kiss all the money you spent on sets goodbye and embrace the total mayhem.”
And I sent her another picture.
“Obviously ours aren’t even in the closet, so at present…we aren’t even winning that.”
“You’re very very liberating!” she said, “I think I’m going to go for it! Trying to organize them all is just making me nutso.”
“I’m very sure you’re entertaining when you’re nutso,” said I, “I want a picture if it happens.”
“Many have witnessed it,” said she, “but rarely is it documented.”
I could feel her courage building.
Then she found all the boxes.
“Take a photo, it’ll last longer.”
“I still have the booklets for assembly. Maybe I’ll just save those and recycle these dumb boxes.”
I just love purging parties.
She got a large tub.
And one by one, dumped the household Legos into it.
“Stiff upper lip!” she declared, as she found more and more Legos in hiding.
Slowly the tub filled. The sets dissolved into one large teeming mass of colored bits.
“I’m way out of my comfort zone,” she said, starting to hyperventilate.
“Learn to get comfy. Stick your hands in and swirl it up. Feel the freedom! You’ve got to embrace your inner slob!”
“I just freed up 50 ziplock baggies!” she cried in victory.
“You could gently release them into the wild, or save them for the next compulsive organization project. Your call.”
“Truth be told, this is so much easier,” she sighed, “Only Child is totally on board, and Hubby will be the most grateful to you! I save everything, so this is a big step. Feels great! Thank you Jolie!”
“You’re welcome. The therapy bill is in the mail.”
I really shouldn’t get the credit, though.
We live a short drive from the best theme park in the world: Legoland.
You know how they store the play area pieces?
Giant mosh pits.
Only factory robots can put the right pieces together into the right sets.
But then they permanently seal them and make people pay to open them.