Saturday, January 9, 2010

There's a Monster in My Vents

“I have a good way of getting rid of the dirt piles,” the 7 year old states. She’s sweeping. It’s one of her weekly chores and she’s been doing it now for about 3 months. I’m only half paying attention. I’m half paying attention to a lot of things: the fussing baby in the highchair, the pot of lentils on the stove, the 4 year old coloring, Union Station on the radio... That’s a lot of “halves” and if you add it all up, it explains why I didn’t go into math. Or why I should be a pollster, one.

“How do you get rid of the dirt piles?” I ask.

“Well,” she grins. “If there’s a vent...” and I watch as she sweeps a remarkably huge pile down the vent.

What idiot decided to put vents in the floor, anyway? Let’s see, the house was built in 1979, which means it’s had 30 years of sweeping to clog up the system. No wonder we have no air flow.

Being the Montessori mother that I am, I screech. “STOP! You can’t do that!” And I explain about Dirt in the Ductwork. Being the child that she is, I have to embellish a bit, something about exploding furnaces and fiery deaths.

When she was 3, I couldn’t stop her standing up in the grocery store carriages. Finally, I said, “If you stand up, you’ll fall out, crack your head open, bleed your brains all over the floor and it WILL HURT!” Parenting by fear--ah, how the mighty have fallen. But, gee, Wally, I did try reasoning with the little cherubs. Thing is, they don’t really care so much about how un-fun it is to buy a new furnace. I know this because I recently bought a new vacuum when the old one literally refused to stand up any more. No one oohed or aahed. No one told me how beautiful, what good taste I show, and how delighted I must be to have a new vacuum. Buying a new vacuum is like buying food--the kids never appreciate it, but you’ve still got to have it around.

Maybe I should have told the 7 year old about the monster who lives in the furnace. When we’re good, he stays asleep. But if we shove things down the vents, he wakes up. Shhhh, listen...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


“Stupid hamster, stupid 3:30 AM, stupid cage, stupid me for letting stupid child get stupid rodent,” runs through my head. Well, ‘stupid’ wasn’t the word I was thinking, but in an effort to be less Jack Kerouac and more Anne of Green Gables, that’s the word I’m publishing. New Year’s resolution and all, you know.

Last night, or rather, very early this morning, I found myself chasing the dwarf hamster all over the room where it has, conveniently, found every niche and can run to a new hiding spot faster than my sleep-deprived brain can process. Of course, the 4 year old, who never really sleeps but rather hovers in limbo for a couple of hours each night, is wide awake, has assessed the situation accurately and with glee, and has loudly informed the had-been-sound-asleep-even-with-the-light-on 7 year old. Well, since we’re all awake in here, why not get the husband? After all, I’m sure he’s to blame somehow. He might as well get out of that warm bed and chase the vermin, too. So I send the hamster-owner to fetch the man with a warning, “QUIETLY!” The baby really does not need to be invited to this little party.

Waking Hal was a good choice. He calmly cupped his hands and then sat and waited while the hamster ran around, frequently returning to sniff said-man’s hands. I’m too impatient, too angry, too flustered to catch hamsters. Hal, on the other hand, is a model of forbearance, which pays off with rodents and legal work. Go figure.

By 3:45 we had caged Nutmeg (why do people name these things after food?) and climbed back into bed. And I laid awake counting and recounting the maximum number of hours I could sleep. Which was a slowly declining number. You know that panicked feeling, that “hurry, hurry, hurry and sleep” feeling? Right.

We have no idea how Nutmeg cum Houdini escaped. The cage was shut tight, and it had been in its wheel when we went to bed. I know because, in addition to checking every window and door, I now check cages.

Maybe we will get a cat after all.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Educational Morning

Saturdays at the gym means cartoons. Don’t know why, except that every Saturday I’ve ever worked out, we’ve had cartoons facing the treadmill/elliptical section. The bikes get HGTV, but whatever. So, today the ellipticals are filled (me among them), and a man walks in. He looks at the TV, asks the elliptical workers if we mind a channel change, and then proceeds to change it. He passes over several cartoons, football, assorted commercials, and lands himself on Telemundo. Weird choice, I think, being as how I doubt he’s a native Spanish speaker. He starts to work out. And an infomercial comes on. About prostate problems. Complete with diagrams. Lots of diagrams. And testimonials. From women, too, so I assume the problems were not just ones about tinkling. There was a lot of smiling and nudging going on among the various couples who have had their lives changed by There were also a few shots of a man standing over a toilet shaking his head in obvious pain. I’m guessing he’s the “no pee-peeing” part of the ad. I don’t know if he ever found relief and I’m just torn up about it.

At first, I laughed and waited for the man to change the channel again. Then I looked around to see if anyone else would change the channel but everyone was studiously avoiding eye contact. So after seeing one too many detailed diagrams, I got off my machine (yes, I draped my towel over it first) and changed the channel myself. To the Underarmor All-American High School football game. Anything’s better than prostate problems at 9:00 AM.