I've picked up. All the toys and game pieces and tiny vehicles are in their proper spots. I've moved the bouncing hippo thing and little spiderman Big Joe chair onto the couch. The blankets have been folded and stacked. Pillows are filling the seats of most of the seating options. It's time to vacuum.
Lizzy, my seven-year-old labrador, eyes the vacuum with weariness and suspicion. As I plug it in, she raises from her bed, head down, eyes on me under her brow. Heading downstairs, she wants to get away. I guess she's afraid of it. She will go after delivery men, barking and growling like she plans to eat their faces off. She is so leary of the vacuum, like it threatens her with those same things.
I use the outlet by the fireplace. Plugging in here allows me to reach most of the room. The cord is wrapped around its storage hooks. I unwind it, and hold the bit closest to the vacuum in my left hand. My youngest squeals and runs and works to get up on the far couch. He and Lizzy share similar feelings toward the vacuum. It seems today, though, he's going to make a game of it.
Using my foot, I hit the red power pedal. The whining roar fills the room and the baby lets out a hollar. I can't really hear him over the din, but his mouth is open wide and his eyes are on the vacuum. This is a chore I actually enjoy. I would probably sweep everyday if I were not spending most of my time at school. There is something special about the lines of cleanliness, a pattern of neatness, a sense of sanitary satisfaction.
Slowly, I travel back and forth, east to west, west to east, moving slightly each time to take in more of the room. I push and pull and repeat.
From behind me come two armed banshees, screaming and running wild. They carry Nerf guns. There must be a war going on that I am unaware of. It has met me here, in the living room. The vacuuming is uninterrupted, as is the war. Blue and orange bullets sail through the air, one barely missing my head. I glance at the middle boys who give no care that I'm trying to work here. They are smiling and shouting and moving fast as cheetahs. They are this way, then that. On one side of me, then the other. Back and forth over the freshly cleaned carpet.
And just like that, they disappear from where they came. The baby scoots off the couch to go after them, deciding their game looks more fun.
I unplug from this outlet and move behind the couches to where the dog bed is. I always leave it for last. As I move the vacuum up and back, behind the couch, I notice bits of popcorn that have made their way through the cushions, to the floor. I sweep it up, smiling. We love popcorn.
Finally, the job finished, I unplug and wrap the cord for storage. I wheel the vacuum to the closet, it's spot open inside. I close the door and take in my accomplishment. This may be my most productive ten minutes of the day.
|The "after" picture...the satisfying pattern and neatness don't last long around here. :)|