Most mornings at the Johnson household begin in the following manner. Around 6.48 the Hen runs into our room and gets in our bed. It’s increasingly dark each morning when he does this, which leads me to believe that it’s actually 3am. With much effort on the part of my brain, I convince my eyelids to part and squint in the alarm clock’s direction. Searching for something resembling a number. That’s when I figure out it’s 6.48.
Not 3.48 as I’d hoped.
Shortly after 7, the Gort usually joins us and we all lie there in a silent stupor, marred occasionally by the entreaties of my boy-children to get out of bed. The Hen is starting to recognize numbers which has enabled him to join the ‘get-out-of-bed’ chorus. ‘It’s 7 o’clock……we need to get out a beeeeed’ he chastises ‘or we’ll be late for playyyyyyyyschool.’
I’ve concluded that literacy in people under the age of twelve is frankly inconvenient.
Eventually, I will myself out of bed and descend the stairs while maintaining a firm grip on the rail. And begin the breakfast and lunch packing portion of the day.This morning, I opened the refrigerator door to get the milk for the boys’ cereal. And stepped in a pile of wetness. Which is one of my two least favorite things in the world: wearing socks while stepping in wetness. (The other is seeing the word ‘caramel’ spelled with only one ‘a’.)
Something was up with the refrigerator, I determined from the pool of clear liquid on the floor. And so our morning began in frantic ‘our refrigerator is possibly broken and what will we do with our food’ mode.
As the professor scurried about, trying to figure things out, he reached a conclusion of his own: we live in a dump. Apparently he didn’t figure this out from my every-other-day meltdowns, or the constant pained expression on my face whenever I look around me. The fingerprints on the walls didn’t clue him in, either. Nor the dirty laundry cascading down the stairs. (Actually, the laundry is a bit of a hot topic in our home.)
No, it was the possibly broken fridge that allowed him to see we live in semi-squalor. And suddenly he was very cranky about it; huffing and puffing about how bottles of finger paint did not belong on top of the refrigerator. Etcetera.
I was talking to a colleague-friend who also has three boys, very close in age to ours. ‘I don’t know how it is at your house,’ he began, ‘but our house is a DUMP’. And with those few words he became my new best friend. Because all I want to hear from anyone these days is that they too live in semi-squalor. I admire the people who shower regularly and have clean, colorful baskets that contain their belongings in an organized way, but I want to talk to the people whose laundry piles fill entire rooms.
We were at another family’s home once, a few months before Percy was born, when I noticed they had the same booster seat as we do. Slight difference though: their booster seat looked like it was brand-new. Like they’d just lifted it out of the box. Mine looked like it was possibly hosting three strains of flu and covered in enough food to feed a small child.
If small children could eat desiccated food.
Don’t get me wrong, we wipe down the seat at least once a day. (Probably only once a day, to be honest.) But even so, tiny pieces of matter had crept into unreachable spaces. And the seat-straps alone harbored things I feared were downright toxic.
Despite all the wiping and scrubbing I’d done, I still couldn’t figure out how to get the straps clean. I’d actually tried dipping them in boiling water, at one point, hoping that would do something. Finally, after growing weary of this particular monkey on my back, I hunkered down besides the seat and figured out how to remove the straps. (Which was nothing short of an ordeal.) And laundered said straps. In the washing machine.
And after I did all of that, I thought to myself: maybe our friends’ booster seat really was brand-new. Because I can’t imagine the mothers of the world are actually removing the straps on their kids’ booster seats so as to get them clean.
Then again, maybe they are. In which case we’re in even worse shape than I’d previously imagined.