19 January 2014


My kids almost died this week.  They were blissfully unaware of their near demise, but they almost died.

We have a backyard and a sandbox.  Both are awesome.  My carpet desperately needed to be vacuumed.  The kids were playing some charming combination of peek-a-boo and hide and seek in their closet, so I left them to it and went to work.  I finished the upstairs and unplugged the vacuum to take it downstairs.  Once I turned the vacuum off I noticed that the house was suspiciously silent.  For a brief moment I wondered if my kids had fallen asleep.  It was almost nap time.  I went to check.

I was hoping to find them asleep and expecting to find them in the middle of some adorable, innocent, and mostly harmless mess.  Perhaps lotion spread across a mirror, or diaper cream painting the bathroom counter, or brown sugar ground into the dining room carpet, or applesauce jars poured out on the pantry floor, or silverware propping the freezer open, or laundry dumped into the bathtub, or toilet paper strewn up and down the stairs, or permanent marker artwork on the kitchen cabinets, or the garden hose dragged in from the back yard in an attempt to fill the fish tank.  Instead, I found them in the attic buried in insulation.

I like to think that I'm not a panicking parent.  I have seen my little boy try to eat pieces of a broken glass jar, watched my little girl jump off the top of the tall slide at the park, scooped my two year old out of a pile of fire ants, and seen my toddler knock one of her front teeth completely out of her mouth.  I have cleaned flooded bathrooms and flooded basements, and I have taken both kids to the emergency room to have their stomachs pumped when they got into the medicine cabinet.  I feel like I have taken each of these events in stride and handled them with poise and equanimity.  And no one else was really around to tell me otherwise, so I continue to believe it.

This time, however, I completely panicked.  My heart rate went through the roof, my palms started sweating, and I started to get a little dizzy.  I was simultaneously baffled that they had even gotten up there in the first place and horrified that they were going to crash through the ceiling while I stood and watched.  I wanted to shout "Get out of there right now!" but I also wanted to order "Nobody move!"  I don't know what actually came out of my mouth.  I scooped them up, brushed them off, and sent them to bed for a nap.  I also developed an irrational fear of vacuuming.

I decided that the best solution was to avoid vacuuming anything, ever, for the rest of my life.  My little redhead thought this was a bad idea.  Apparently a proponent of the "get back on the horse" theory, he dropped a glass on the tile floor.  It exploded sending slivers of glass shrapnel all over the tile and adjacent carpet.  I put shoes on everyone, swept the tile, and avoided vacuuming.  For about 24 hours we had the thorny carpet of death.  Finally I caved.  Because food is the thing that keeps their attention the longest I set my kids at the table with a snack and got out the vacuum.

When I finished vacuuming the family room I decided to go ahead and vacuum the hall.  When I finished vacuuming the hall I briefly considered vacuuming my bedroom.  I turned off the vacuum for a moment and heard an eerie silence.  Frustrated and worried I thought "Seriously, they've been out of my sight for less than a minute," and went to investigate.

But instead of finding chaos I found this:

And this:

And while peace and order were briefly restored to the universe, I still fully intend to never again vacuum
anything, ever, for the rest of my life.  

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