Isaac doesn't play so much play as he curates, designing and accessorizing our household spaces — and himself — into ever more perfect, blinged-out versions.
Our views on interior design differ slightly. Whereas I am aiming for a low-clutter, midcentury modern kind of vibe, he's got a sort of Betsey Johnson meets Memphis Group/shabby chic/Cartier boutique aesthetic, wherein the more colours and the more sparkle and the more layers, the better. We've stopped buying him toys in favour of restocking supplies of play-dough, beads, and Scotch tape.
And fashion magazines (preferably those heavy on the jewelry advertising).
(So that he can spend a blissful hour or two cutting out pictures of precious gems and secreting them in his pirate treasure box.)
Of course, our own jewelry is highly coveted, always up for grabs. “Mama, are you wearing this necklace today?” he will ask me, hopefully, draping things over my head, against my shirt. “Mama, I brought you your rings!” And he will hold out his hands, hoping that his helpfulness will erase the fact that he has been forbidden from removing such shiny metal objects (including my mother’s diamond engagement ring and my own wedding band) from my dresser. “Thank you,” I say, taking them gingerly from his hands. Rachel took the boys to the mall to buy me a birthday present recently (because someone turned foooooor-teeee!) and Isaac came home clutching something behind his back, a huge, secretive smile on his face. But of course, he couldn’t keep a secret for long, not when it was so shiny, and came “in a blue box that goes like this — in [insert appropriate swooping hand gesture here] and [swoop] out,” and had so many colours.
And really, who needs toys when one can simply repurpose packaging? Any sparkly thing, the fluffy bits of tissue paper from a gift basket, the cylindrical cardboard gift box holding a bottle of birthday wine, the shiny black cardboard box that holds my chi-chi hair product: all are material, fodder, treasure to be squirreled away in a not-so-secret hiding place in the closet in his room. Can you give that to me? Is it mine? Can I have it forever?
(Current contents: some marbles, a rock, and a piece of fluff.)
I have learned to dread when he asks for tape. Inevitably, a request for tape signals a desire to tape two unjoinable things together (example: a broken plastic trophy cup taped perpendicularly to an empty cardboard chocolate box), followed by an artistic meltdown when his creative vision (seamless, organic) doesn’t match with the final product (two hunks of plastic held precariously together with packing tape) and the tears begin, the tantrum rises. He is such an artiste, a tortured soul whose reality doesn’t – yet – match the ideal in his head.
But — mark my words — one day, I bet you, it will.