“Why don’t you go draw something?” –me not altogether kindly to Marcel and Roy


ummer means never being able to complete sentence much less a thought. For me, there may actually be nothing quite so frustrating as trying to do either when The Three are home. Anything more ambitious than speaking or thinking—talking on the phone, say, or God forbid, writing down what you’re thinking—and you have the making of a day alternately spent weeping and railing against the forces that you yourself brought into this world for their near preternatural power to stop even the slightest trace of forward progress.

But when, no kidding around, you have got to get something done, damn it, and you’ve used whatever screen you have at your disposal until the children have pretty much used up their media allotment for the entire week and this, too, is beginning to make you question your fitness as a mother, you remember the box.

The plastic container on the desk in the room upstairs, the box with the lid that snaps shut, the one that collects the leftover crayons and pencils and markers at the end of every school year, that never fails to stain your fingertips with the oily bits of pastels when you reach inside, that same box might just hold power enough to save the whole lot of you—or buy you a good 15 minutes at least.