No luck cleaning after kids
Published December 21, 2005
There’s a chicken in my closet. Not a real one, a shiny little plastic one. He belongs on the back of a shiny plastic tractor driven by Elmo, who is also shiny and plastic.
I’ve tried keeping toys out of our bedroom. But they won’t stay out. They seem to gravitate right out of their toy boxes and down the hall.
Recently I came across Erma Bombeck’s quote about how cleaning your house while kids are living in it is like shoveling the sidewalk while it’s still snowing.
Actually, it’s worse than that. It would be easy if kids only undid the work you just did. But they take it much, much further. If you have neatly folded laundry stacked in the living room, your first-grader will careen right through the middle of it on her scooter. Now you have the pile of clothes you had before you folded it.
But wait. They’re not done.
Then the baby will walk by, lean over the pile and vomit Cheerios and apple juice into the pile before grabbing your very last pair of pre-motherhood Victoria’s Secret panties and carrying them to some undisclosed location in the house, where they will be lost forever.
I try to stay on top of all the messes around here. Really, I do. But almost on a daily basis, I encounter a mess I just cannot deal with at the time.
Like the Goldfish crackers in our oldest daughter’s room, I don’t remember when they spilled all over the carpet. I just remember noticing the mess at the end of an exhausting day after Julia was already in bed, or I would have had her pick them up. It was a good two weeks before I thought about those Goldfish crackers again. I thought about them just as I saw Julia’s baby sister grab a handful of them and put them in her mouth.
Hey, at least I didn’t have to clean them up.
Let me review some of the other messes I’ve encountered around here lately. The white picket fence from our miniature Christmas village turned up in the cat’s litter box the other day. I found a banana peel in the baby’s laundry basket. And a few days ago, my husband followed a trail of white lotion through the house to our 15-month-old, who was standing there with my giant bottle of Jergen’s and a big, lotiony smile on her face.
Sometimes I think about my friends who are single or retired with a tinge of jealousy.
Maybe one day I’ll know what it’s like to walk through the house in the middle of the night without stepping on the shiny, plastic swine section of Old MacDonald’s farm, or get dressed without finding that a clan of dollhouse people has taken up residence in my sock drawer.
Until then, I’m revising Erma Bombeck’s comment. I would say that cleaning a house while children are living in it would be more like shoveling the sidewalk while it’s still snowing, and while someone is jack-hammering the sidewalk into pieces, and while termites are chewing the handle of your shovel into sawdust, and while your mother-in-law is driving by with her window down, yelling, “You’re still working on that? What have you been doing all day?”