Thursday, March 20, 2014

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Is Your House Also Full Of Underwear?

Norah with underwear on her head


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It was around 7:30 PM. Both Tristan (age 6) and Norah (age 4) were out of the tub and working their way into PJ’s, Mel was finishing up some homework at the dinner table, and I was picking up around the house. I started in the dining room, and beneath the table I found a pair of Tristan’s Sponge Bob underwear. And next to it was a pair of Norah’s bright pink and purple flower print underwear. I went into the living room, and there, next to the sofa, was more kids’ underwear. I found kids’ underwear in both bathrooms, and in every other room in our house, including the kitchen.

I recall watching an episode of The Simpsons where Marge was cleaning the house, and she found underwear in every room, too. And then, the punch line, she found a pair in the refrigerator. I watched this episode as a single man, and I recall thinking that they were just being over the top, as The Simpsons often is.

That’s so funny, I thought. There’s no way a family would leave underwear in every room and in the refrigerator. There is something delightfully wrong with the Simpson family.

But then, sure enough, I opened the freezer door to put some chicken away, and there was a pair of Skylanders underwear tucked between the Popsicles and the frozen vegies. Now keep in mind that, as crazy as it sounds, there was some explanation as to why Tristan might have his underwear in the freezer.

A few months earlier his teacher sent home a recipe for making it snow (flush ice down the toilet, sleep with a white crayon under your pillow…) and part of the recipe was to place underwear in the freezer. So I suppose this wasn’t the first time I’d seen his underwear in the freezer; however, I will admit that I was a little embarrassed by the fact that I didn’t know if Tristan had placed his underwear in the freezer that day, or if it was from his original effort to make it snow and had gone unnoticed by both Mel and myself for over a month.

And here is what I find the most mind-boggling. I picked up the house the night before. And the night before that. Most nights I walk around the house and pick up toys and clothing, and every night I find more underwear.

I just don’t understand where it all comes from. Some of the underwear is clean, and some of it obviously isn’t. Is there something wrong with my children? Do they have some strange obsession with their own underwear? Can I somehow, or in some way, blame this on an underwear fairy? Is there such a thing? Because thinking about some magical person floating around the house and leaving underwear in every room makes me feel a lot less worried about my children.

I interrogated Tristan and Norah individually.

Norah was in her room, sitting on her bed, waiting for me to read her a story.

“Norah,” I said. “Why is your underwear in every room of the house?”
She was in pink pj’s with polka dots and the print of a ballerina elephant, her hair wet and neatly combed, a copy of “Knuffle Bunny” in her lap. She looked up at me and shrugged.

So I pushed it further. I asked her again, “No. Seriously. What’s up with the underwear?”

“Underwear is funny.”

“No,” I said. “It’s not. It’s strange. You need to stop.”

Norah rolled her eyes and said, “No it’s not, Daddy. Read the story.”  

And that was it. That was all she had to say on the subject.  She didn’t try to explain herself. She wasn’t embarrassed at all. She just shrugged it off, like kids’ underwear in every room of the house was a naturally occurring thing.

I read Norah her story, and then I moved on to Tristan.

He was sitting up in his bed, wrapped up in a quilt, and looking at a book order form from school.

I told him about how I’d found underwear in every room of the house. I told him that it was strange and I wanted to know why he did it.

“I don’t know,” He said in an accused and sympathetic voice. “I just do. I don’t see why it’s such a big deal.”

Then he gave me this slant eyed crusty little look like he was offended by my question, like I’d just asked him to justify his lifestyle. Obviously leaving underwear in every room of the house was not something that should be questioned, but accepted and supported. And I was so surprised by his response, his look, that I just left the room, sat down on the sofa, and assumed that the next evening I would probably again find underwear in the freezer. 

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times Motherlode, Huffington Post Parents, Huffington Post Weddings, and The Good Men Project. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Lucinda Higley