First published in Laundry Tales to Lighten Your Load
When Lance, my third child, was born I had a three-year-old girl, Treva, and an 18-month-old boy, Damon. That’s three in 37 months—an exhausting season of my life.
When Lance was about two, I made the mistake of putting my feet up for a nanosecond when Treva, the quintessential big sister, came to me.
“Mommy, I think you better come see what the boys have done.”
I’m thinking, “What could a two and four-year-old do in a few seconds?”
At the far end of the bedroom hallway in our home was a custom laundry room. On a bright day, the sunlight streamed in through the windows above the washer, dryer, and sink. There was a built-in sewing machine and large laundry bins. This room was exceptionally cheery and in frequent use. I bought Tide detergent in the largest boxes available—they were about the size of small microwaves.
On this particular day as Treva led me down the hall, I got a chill. A frost was drifting in from the far end of the hallway. I shivered and then saw the powdery cloud billowing through the laundry room door. There was a snow storm, or better said, a blizzard in the house!
“It’s snowing!” I heard a tiny snow bunny exclaim, followed by a squeal of delight. Then more laughter and more squeals.
I surveyed the glistening vision of white that covered every surface, even the eye of the needle in my sewing machine. Finger-painting swirls made with soapy fingers frosted the windows. Tiny hands with large imaginations had flung every grain of detergent that drifted like a snowflake to the surface below. It might have been the calm after the storm, had it not been for the geyser that was spewing from the sink faucet. Damon had decided he would repair a leak and had removed the faucet head. As the water sprayed over the new-fallen snow, a sludge of suds was swiftly forming.
There was no point in screaming. It was a childhood experience born out of curiosity and imagination—both traits I tried to encourage.
After turning off the water source, I grabbed Lance firmly and sat him on his beloved bum. He slid across the floor as the surface oozed underneath him.
“Stay there,” I said knowing nothing could stay in place on this slime.
Turning to Damon I ordered “Bring me a broom.” I was optimistic to think a broom would work on suds.
In his pure childish innocence he bargained, “If I do will I get a treat?” He thought he would take advantage of the reward-for-obedience program I had implemented. His request almost pushed me over the edge. But in that moment I passed the ultimate mothering test: I did not clobber my son. I simply tackled the task at hand.
The broom failed, and when I tried the vacuum, but soon heard a whirling and whining. Looking down into the metal tube, I saw a gooey coating of soapy emulsion stuck to the inside of my vacuum cleaner. Cleaning up soap is a messy job.
When we sold the house a few years later, it seemed to me that the buyers gave a little shiver and hugged themselves when they entered the snow (laundry) room. They looked puzzled, but I knew the reason. With their imaginations and a big box of detergent, my little snow bunnies had forever turned the place into a magical winter wonderland. The snowstorm in the laundry room remains a fond family memory. Perhaps that’s because I didn’t allow my temper to turn it into a national disaster.
Laundry’s Life Lesson
“Adults teach children in three important ways: The first is by example, the second is by example, the third is by example.” – Albert Schweitzer
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