I have been known to have a clean house. There was that time last November when I got on a roll. Then there was the cleaning frenzy that hit me in the post-tax season, and once last month, as the promise of visiting relatives loomed large on the horizon, I polished until the entire place sparkled.
But by and large, our house is anything but tidy. To say it looks “lived in” would be an understatement. Quite frankly, the place often looks like a parade just went through.
With Charlie still living at home and our other sons coming and going, it is hard to keep up. Basketballs rule the foyer, dirty socks command space under the coffee table and if the kitchen sink is ever void of dirty dishes, it is only because no one has carried them up from the family room.
Just yesterday, the urge to clean overcame me. The dust was thick, the spaces were cluttered and unless dirty laundry was the new theme for the decorative niche at the bottom of the stairs, things had gotten out of control.
It was definitely time for some spiffing up.
As I loaded an abundant stack of sports bottles and drinking vessels into the dishwasher, I made mental preparations to corral the first family member who walked into the room and enlist his help.
“Charlie!” I said with too much enthusiasm as my unsuspecting first subject bounced a basketball around the corner.
“Oh no,” he responded as he recognized my over-enthusiastic tone and its implications. “Is it a chore?”
“You dang betcha it’s a chore, little mister. We’ve got to come to terms with our living conditions. Now, carry this gym bag to your bedroom, help me stash the junk mail, and although I’m still proud you are a high school graduate, I think it’s time to do away with the balloon shrine on the mantle.”
I stacked him up like a pack mule and sent him to the nether regions of the abode with our puppy, Sadie, as his guide.
In the spirit of fun, it was Vernon (our eldest son who was lucky enough to be home for a couple of days) who next rounded the corner.
“Did you see that little guy?” he asked with a chuckle as he turned to watch Charlie bump into an end table.
Vernon has a sixth sense where I’m concerned and often times seems to read my mind. Thank heavens his mind reading does not work around corners or he never would have appeared in the kitchen. He was still laughing at his younger brother when he turned and met my gaze and the look on his face quickly went stoic.
“Oh yes! I’ve had it with the filth.”
He started to make an argument that he does not live at home anymore and as a house guest, should not have to work around here.
I let him make his case for a moment or two and then I pointed out that his technological garb was all over the counter, his coffee cup was still on the kitchen table and he certainly would have to agree that his T-shirt did not complement the summer theme we had going on with the end table.
I was hoping against all hope that Pat, my beloved spouse, would soon show his face for no one can run a vacuum like he can.
But apparently word had gotten out that I was in a cleaning frenzy and that everyone should “run while there is still time!”
The only living being within earshot was Sadie, the biggest mess-maker of all. As I contemplated putting gym socks on her oversized paws in the hope that she could help dust the wood floors, she took one look at me, tucked her cute little tail and bolted.
I knew they would all have to return eventually and I focused my attention on the first place they were likely to reappear — the kitchen refrigerator.
One by one they showed their faces and, except for Sadie, they all chipped in. I must say the house did not look too bad and I vowed to keep it that way. At least until the next time a parade goes through.
Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.