When is a door not a door? When it’s ajar, of course.
It seems self-explanatory, this grade school joke. It was in all the joke books in the elementary school library. You could find it wherever you found dumb elephant jokes and the one about the chicken crossing the road.
Apparently, some kids didn’t really get it, though. Probably because the word “ajar” isn’t generally found in the working vocabulary of the average 9-year old.
So, when I asked my son, “When is a dresser not a dresser?” he answered, “When it’s a jar?”
“A jar, get it?”
“I understand what you think you meant, but I don’t think you do.”
…And I wasn’t about to explain the mechanics of a grade school joke because I needed to move on to the dresser in question.
“Your dresser is not a dresser because you are not using it to store your clothes.”
“Um… that’s not really very funny, mom.”
“It… wasn’t…a… joke. Your dresser has no clothes in it!”
“That’s because they are on the laundry table.”
“Well, then go get them and put them away.”
“But my drawers don’t have any room.”
“That’s because you have loaded them with toys.”
“You told me to clean my room.”
“Yes, but toys go in the toy box.”
“But there’s no room in my toy box!”
I walked over to the toy box and flipped open the lid. It contained an assortment of books, crumpled artwork, remnants of chip bags and granola bar wrappers, dirty laundry and a few toys; the ones that didn’t fit in his dresser, I assumed.
I didn’t know where to start, so I started with the obvious: “The books go on the bookshelf.”
“They will fit if you don’t stack your books. You need to stand them up like little soldiers.”
I pulled a questionable pair of underwear out of the box. “Where do these go?” I asked.
“In the hamper, but I’m using it as my desk.”
“Why don’t you use your desk as your desk?”
“Because I turned it upside down so I could make a base for my guys.”
“If you used the underneath of your bed for a base, your guys would have a roof.” As a parent, your arguments must employ the logic of a 9-year old.
“I can’t. That’s where I put my clean clothes.”
“Let me get this straight. You can’t put your clean clothes in your dresser because your toys are in it. You can’t put your toys in the toy box because your dirty clothes are in it. You can’t put your dirty clothes in the hamper, because you’re using it as a desk. You can’t use your desk because it’s your guys’ base. And you can’t use the bed as your base because it’s where you put your clean clothes. Do I have that right?”
“Yeah, kinda,” he said in a small voice.
I took a deep breath. “Well, child, we have some work to do.”
He groaned, “What are we going to do?”
“We are going to turn your bed into a base for your guys.”
“That sounds good,” he said. “But where are we gonna put my clean clothes?”
“I bet you can figure that one out.”
“Okay, just one thing…”
“Are we going to be turning my door into a jar, too?”