Yesterday I had a man from a professional moving company come to give me an estimate on moving our belongings to Seattle. He walked all around my home, scanning each crook, book, and nook into a hand-held computer of some sort. “What do you call this?” he’d ask, pointing at some random piece of furniture. “A shoe bench,” I’d reply. “There’s no known entry by that name,” he’d say, time after time. “Could we call it an umbrella stand?”  I’d shrug. “Sure, call it whatever you like. How about World’s Ugliest Un-Umbrella Stand!” He eyed me strangely but waved the machine over the shoe bench, whereby it gave an acceptable ping, so off we marched upstairs.

All around my house this man roamed, zapping this and scanning that, while I tagged along behind, apologetic at our family’s mayhem and mess. The apologies turned to stunned embarrassment when we entered my daughters’ room. Under the desk next to her bed Juliet had built a two-story home for her beloved pet peacock, Prisha. Since I had been busy packing she had scavenged about for unpacked items to play with. Apparently my bathroom supplies were something akin to a treasure trove. For when the moving man and I paused in front of her desk, here is what we saw: A downstairs kitchen with a table and chairs made out of an overturned cup and a now-empty tampon box, as well as a grand staircase leading  to an upstairs bedroom, creatively constructed out of Uno cards and actual tampons. The moving man and I stood side-by-side, speechless. I watched, cheeks afire, as he carefully scanned in the desk, wordlessly avoiding Prisha’s Pad altogether.

The next bedroom we went into belonged to Annalise. It was so messy you could barely walk, yet attached to her wall was a home-made closet she had fashioned out of a box. In it she had hung all of her Build-a-Bear clothes. It was pretty cute, and again I was struck by the artistic lengths kids will go to if necessary.

The problem as I see it is kids so rarely need to be imaginative these days. Their games, videos, and toys are just so visually incredible! This creates a parenting teeter-totter wherein half the time you feel you ought to eschew this constant stimulation offered to your children, while the other half of the time you, too, are wildly entertained and mesmerized by it all. So you battle it out in your mind. “We’re embarking on a cross-country trip with six kids, obviously it would be wise to have a DVD player in the car. But shouldn’t driving cross-country mean that the off-spring are lulled into looking out the windows now and then, to see the world? And which is worse – driving for two days straight with six kids fighting and whining, or listening to ‘Phineas and Ferb’ on a DVD player for hours on end? Either way, at some point, I’m going to need wine.” 

These days it is increasingly rare to go anywhere without some form of ‘entertainment’ forced down your throat. At a restaurant, the gas pumps,  even at the eye doctor’s the other day, as soon as the tests were over and the nurse left my room, a ‘healthy’ eye video droned on and on the entire time I waited for the doctor.

I don’t understand society’s abhorrence of boredom. It’s nice to have absolute silence sometimes. Boredom and restlessness are necessary ingredients to make you want to get up and go. It’s why one leaves a nest at all, and how creativity is born. As Elizabeth Edwards once noted, “I’ve often said that the most important thing you can give your children is wings. Because you’re not gonna always be able to bring food to the nest…sometimes…they’re gonna have to be able to fly by themselves.”

It’s quite symbolic that as I go about physically tearing this little Mouse House down, my girls are busy building little nests here and there all of their own design. It’s nice to see them using their wings to build Prisha a Pad, or Skittles a closet, even if the moving man doesn’t know how to scan it in, or tally it up. Because the true dollar amount of something as comical and creative as a doll house made piece-meal from uno cards and tampons should read: PRICELESS.