Every house has one monster robot that roars with the sounds that make toddlers scurry in fear to the safety of the couch, where they watch wide-eyed as their mother maneuvers the terrifying beast. As they pray for salvation, the monster’s progress across the house is relatively brief, and the children wonder how long it will be before the beast wakes and comes after them. That monster is the vacuum.
I remember when those first few months of life the baby slept through the drowning sound. Heck, Evan slept through my mother and me screaming and yelling as we chased a huge lizard out of the house, when my mom decided she should move ALL the furniture around to vacuum. Granted, I just had the carpets done two weeks before, and now I’ve an irrational fear of lizards, which I used to catch, but the damn thing landed on my bare foot. I can still feel its tiny nails digging into my skin. Shudder.
Now where was I?
So for a while babies sleep peacefully during the vacuuming sessions. I could put the vacuum all the way under his crib and not wake Evan or Sean. I actually worried that the baby was screaming and I couldn’t hear it. Those were the days, my friend. Then something happened. Peaceful sleeping turned to fear. And I watched each boy scuttle away from the loud noise.
At first, Evan was upset, when he was awoken by the vacuum. Not by fear, but Evan believed he was missing something truly awesome going on downstairs, and the hell he was going to miss that. I still remember when my old college roommate was visiting and carried a very pissed off Evan who was rudely awoken by that noisy, fun robot. Evan shot me a look of pure malice. Sorry, if I knew you loved it so much, I would have let you do it.
Then one day I left the vacuum accidently plugged in. Evan walked around it, touching, caressing, exploring that dirty thing. I thought nothing of it as I watched and ate my breakfast. (Yes, until recently I vacuumed before breakfast because that’s when the floor was the cleanest.) Ooh, the levers. Ooh, the hose. Aww, look through the window to see the wonderful dirt piling up. Then Evan placed his foot down on the on/off lever, which, unlike the usual vacuum, is on the bottom near the pedal to allow you to move the handle down, and that vacuum gave a shout. Evan jumped three feet and landed five feet away. Luckily Evan didn’t push with enough weight to actually click on the vacuum. As poor Evan cried in fear, I did what every good mom does. Laugh. Laughing I held him, trying to assure him that everything was fine. That was the day Evan and the vacuum became distrustful enemies, and Evan, learning his lesson, kept his distance, realizing that the only safe haven was up on the couch.
Now Sean never had an affair with the vacuum. Once Sean realized the vacuum’s existence, he was suspicious of it, demanding to be held as I vacuumed. I quickly learned how to navigate the house with a baby on my hip, pushing the vacuum. By now I was completely paranoid over the old and stained carpet, and I was vacuuming every other day, going over the carpet at least three times. Hey, that’s where my babies play! I can’t see why we can’t replace it with something cheap just for now.
But the relationship of the vacuum has changed this last month.
First off, Evan watched as I used the vacuum hose to clean a toddler arm chair that our neighbor so graciously gave us. As I vacuumed off ten years of dust, I noticed a sword point next to the hose. I turned to see Evan holding his sword with one hand and his lawn mower in his other hand, parked slightly behind him at the same angle I had the vacuum. I watched as Evan mirrored my every move. I turned to shut off the vacuum, and Evan did the same.
Evan: Phew. That was hard work, Mommy, but we did it. It’s all clean now. We vacuumed the chair.
Ok. Thanks. Unfortunately, when I put the vacuum away, Evan did not do the same with his “vacuum,” leaving it to sit in the middle of the living room as I moved the chair into his room.
Last week after I had finished vacuuming the family room, I grabbed the ringing phone, leaving the vacuum out but unplugged. (See, I’m not a sadist; I learn from my mistakes.) After assuring the telemarketer that I was just the nanny and didn’t know when the owners of the house would be home, I turned to see Evan and Sean boning up on their sword fighting skills on the vacuum. The helpless vacuum was at their mercy as they walloped him good. Evan, jumping around and attacking, yelled for some Mommy back-up, and seeing how much I hate to vacuum, I did what every good mother would do. I grabbed the sword and started beating the vacuum too.
Now Sean had no fear of the vacuum, once the battle was over, and I fear that this might just be a bad thing. You see today I began vacuuming (after breakfast because now the boys run and jump on the couch shouting at the vacuum), and Sean just sat in the middle of the floor playing with his police SUV, paying no mind to the vacuum barreling down his way or the lady who was pushing it. The vacuum even bumped him, and Sean just shrugged and kept putting the little Duplo man into the SUV and taking him out again. Leaving the two feet diameter spot of dirt alone, I passed Sean to finish up with the walk way, only to feel a tug on the cord. I turn to find Sean had abandoned his game to play with the cord. He stood, shaking it, smiling at me. How could I resist not shutting off the vacuum and giving him a hug and kiss? Well, the walk ways didn’t get vacuumed. Hope you all don’t stop by today or tomorrow.
I’m assuming we’ll come full circle in a few years when the boys begin to loathe and fear the vacuum again when it becomes part of their chores. Ah, child labor, the only reason to have kids.