By Eliska Counce, TSB Columnist
Being a domestic engineer sounds like it could be dull, nay, even tedious. But especially we parents know there can be a true sense of danger and excitement in cleaning. If you’ve never had that exhilarating moment: Oh god, let that be a raisin…please, just be a raisin...you’ve never cleaned a house filled with small children. It’s a thankless, repetitive task, the constant sweeping, mopping, and toy collection, etc., but never let it be said that it’s dull to step full weight barefoot on a Lego or to discover you’ve washed a load of laundry with an open magic marker in someone’s pocket.
No, it’s no small feat to clean a space five people are constantly circling and soiling, dropping their clothes and trash as they move through their day. You’ve got to be on your toes. It took a week and a fruit fly infestation for us to finally discover the banana peel my son left in my bedroom. It’s a parenting failure, I admit, but I am evidently powerless to affect change on my family’s habit of dropping whatever rubbish or toy they’re holding at the moment at their feet.
At any given moment, you may step in, sit on, or grind into the carpet a variety of food including Goldfish, M and Ms, or my personal favorite, the half-filled juice bladder that creates an amber arc of stickiness with any pressure. And what marketing genius decided that everything a kid drinks, including medicine, should include a ferocious red dye that is more indelible to carpet than tattoo ink?
And then there’s the toys. The toys, toys, toys, toys. One day, Hubs and I will reclaim the living room for ourselves. One day, there will not be plastic bins in every corner towering with stuffed animals, books, and every shape and variety of plastic crap China makes. Today, my friends, is not that day. Today my children are entitled and indulged Americans, and it is what it is.
Today, my job description includes making sure marbles and Bakugons (I don’t know what they are, either, sorry) and other child sundries don’t end up in the vacuum. Do you know what a Polly Pocket head looks like after it’s been through the vacuum? You can’t handle the truth. It ain’t pretty.
Thus you can imagine me this week, as every week, taking advantage of the family being out of the house to get the chance to get my clean on. Extra work this week, as we had returned from a week at the beach. Naturally, the kids had accumulated a variety of new toys at the beach, and just as naturally, they were dumped all over the living room. I’m in the zone. Toy after toy. Into the bin. Rubber ducks. Rubber alligators. Rubber insects. Into the bin.
And … what looked like a rubber lizard. I swooped down in my efficiency. And came thisclose to wrapping my fingers around a REAL gekko who was making like a statue near my desk. There may or may not have been some squealing. I don’t know what instinct saved me. But some mommy sixth sense went from brain to fingers before I snatched that dude up and tossed him in a toy bin. I looked. And looked again. Was it real? Or just incredibly realistic?
I got close enough to decide to err on the side of animation. After no small amount of dance/squirming/shuddering (I did stop short of jumping on a chair and clutching my skirt in a complete cliche of a female), I knew I also had to figure out if he was a live guy or if he was an ex-lizard. I needed to know if he’d be making any sudden moves that would require me to run amok. Unfortunately, I would require proximity to him to figure it out. If I poked him and he was real, he might scurry. And y’all? I hate things that might scurry with the heat of a thousand suns.
But I screwed my courage to the sticking point, as they say, and peering through my bifocals as hard as I could, I inched toward him. I feel itchy even now remembering the beadiness of his eyes. But he didn’t move. At all. I couldn’t see him breathing. I declared him as definitely NOT a plaything. I also decided he was deceased due to his continued stillness. And resigned myself to sharing space with him until Hubs, aka “The Cleaner,” would return. Because I’m a feminist, y’all, but the man should kill the bug and get rid of the dead things.
I want you to know that little bugger sat there while I worked, one wary eye on him, perched to the far left of my office chair, ooged out, for hours. The dogs were useless when I tried to get them to eat him. When CSI, meaning Hubs, finally arrived home, I told him of our “departed” reptilian friend. Hubs went to dispose of him…BUT THEN AAAAHH HE WAS ALIVE AND SCURRIED. It was exhilarating, to say the least.
It was a dramatic chase, but Hubs, who has no irrational fear of crawly things, managed to escort our uninvited guest back outside, where he scurried on his lizard way into the darkness of our back yard. I wished my lizard interloper godspeed. I can only imagine him and his lizard friends laughing their tails off at the silly, huge, pink and oily two-legger he terrorized for an afternoon. And me? I just may let those toys lay out on the floor for another day while I recover.