I cleaned out the car yesterday morning. Oddly I remember writing about cleaning the car once before, also on a day when my husband was away, but please don’t feel like this is a regular thing. That was probably the last time I cleaned it, not being an experience I was eager to repeat.
My boys, now three and five, were a big help in the car-cleaning process. The kind of big help where they ask you seventeen times each in twenty minutes when we are going to clean the outside part, climb in the driver’s seat when your back is turned and push every possible button including the horn, spill your bucket of (now dirty) cleaning water, ask nine times for a snack, and trip you while you’re working so you fall on the old vacuum someone just gave you and crack the plastic. With their assistance I made a twenty-minute job last two hours, so naturally I rewarded them with big sponges and let them help clean the exterior. The girls helped too so the car got very clean, perhaps especially the license plates on which I noticed all four children concentrated their efforts.
It was beautiful when it was done, gleaming inside and out, smelling like lemons and jingling with the sleigh bell ornament I hung from the rearview mirror. But I was not beautiful. I shooed the children inside and came in for a shower, covered with dirt, sweat, and frustration. I made it to the bathroom doorway when the power died. No power means no water. Now that the rains are here to stay this happens really often.
There was still no water and no power when the daily downpour began at lunchtime. As the house got darker I lit all the battery lights I could find and some candles. After two years I finally figured out how to light the oven when the power’s out so I lit that too and made Christmas cookies by the light of a candle. We played Legos by flashlight and everything went fine until around the time I started working on dinner.
What is it about evening that brings insects to life? Right now I am writing this in the dark (yes, the power went out today, too) and I’ve killed three termites and missed a mosquito. Yesterday large cockroaches, perhaps fooled by the long darkness in the house into thinking it was night, began to come. First there was one behind me while I was chopping spinach. My three-year-old yelled from across the room, “Cock-Oach, Mom!”
“No, Batman,” I said (as he prefers to be called). “It’s a lego. I’ve already stepped on three of them.”
“It’s moving, Mom!” said Batman.
I should mention that I still like to ask my hubby to interact with the insect world on my behalf whenever possible. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible–he was out of town.
And my five-year-old, my wild drive-you-crazy little dude, dives head-first across the kitchen floor and smashes a huge roach with his bare fist.
“Don’t worry, Mom, I killed it.”
He was amazing. Six more came looming out in the next fifteen minutes, hard to see in the dim flickering light until they moved. What is it about the dark that makes us feel so vulnerable? I’m not kidding, I’m not even that bothered by bugs anymore and I was completely creeped out. But Hugh rushed to my rescue every time. By the third one, he’d brought a plastic sword from his room. By the fifth, I was exclaiming, “Hugh, you’re amazing!”
“No, I’m like a knight,” he said gravely, before diving under the kitchen table after another one.
It was such a great moment. I loved seeing him step up when I needed him, drawing up his skinny shoulders and stalking about the kitchen with his plastic weapon.
Sometimes this life brings out the best in our children.