While typing this, one of the men working in our house, asked me a question which I couldn’t answer. He and his partner are walking around my house in their socks, as though they live here shouting to one another in Albanian. It made me wonder about people who make a living doing work in people’s homes.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that people need money. Moreover people need to work where they can find employment. However I don’t think everyone is cut out for working in someones home. I think it would be hard to meld into someone else’s world, if only for a short period of time.
I’m always amused by how many people prepare their homes for the coming of the cleaning lady. And once the cleaning begins, I’m not sure who is more concerned about the house us or the cleaning lady. It’s like we have to remind ourselves she is working for us.
Baby sitters are like this too. They come to take care of the kids and then after awhile, they are snuggling up on the couch with a blanket over them or enjoying dinner with the kids. I don’t really mind it, but I do find it amusing and curious. I don’t know that I could blend in so well into someones home. But these people hang out, enjoy our space as if it is their own, do their job and then leave. And with babysitters, it seems like many of them find it hard to leave once they’ve set down roots in the house.
What kind of person is drawn to connecting with another family so intimately and why? I smile wondering if we’ll soon get into fightswith the plumbers, babysitters, or cleanning lady over what show to watch on the tv.
My four year old has started in a beginning soccer class at the Y. They teach them basic skills for thirty minutes and then play a game for thirty. They play three on three. It is like watching an episode of three stooges. If you are lucky, they score a goal……..in the wrong net!
They tend to mentally move in and out of the game. Its not unusual to see a kid stop by a parent and get a hug. J likes to wave at us as the ball rolls by him. If one child falls, the other “stooges” do the same to act silly. The game moves at a slow pace because the ball is constantly out of bounds and/or the ref is blowing his whistle to stop the game.
At times the kids remind me of Ferdinand, the bull who was more interested in smelling flowers than being a mean bull. And then its as if a light bulb goes off for just a minute or two and someone realizes they can score a goal. And when someone scores, all the other kids come out of their trance because they hear all the families cheer.
And of course, once the game is over-its time to get ready for to go to my older sons game.
The bags are packed. The DVDs and Cd’s have been collected because we will be leaving soon. We will drive 19-20 hours with our six and three year old boys. We will begin with tremendous optimism about the journey. And then15 minutes into the trip, the boys will shout, “why we aren’t at Grandma’s house yet?”
We will begin with healthy snacks, a clean car, bottled water, and fresh fruit. Eventually, we’ll tire out and settle Paul Newman salads and fajita wraps at Mc Donald’s. We’ll even keep our spirits up after a night of negotiating sleep at the Comfort Inn. And comment on how clean they keep the waffle makers due to “Waffle Off.” What you may ask is “Waffle Off?” It is a spray used to clean off the waffle makers in between uses at the “Cont Breakfast,” (continental breakfast.) I’m still unclear as to which continent eats this way.
And then there will be time with extended family. Some of which will include the necessary chatter, and discussion of what “we have to do.” Only to be followed by the conversations in private about why we have to do what they want. And just when it seems like we can’t have one more family meal, ice cream, or hot dog on a hot bench with flys near by , its time to head back on the road.
But now, we’re tired. All the videos and DVDs are no longer exciting. One traffic jam seems like one too many. The empathy you felt for “that poor driver” on the way there, turns into,”for crisake, get off the road!” And about now, the food goes downhill. You go to Bob Evans for the sausages and biscuits, start drinking serious quantities of Big Gulps from 7-11, and the fruit has to come from unatural food sources; “sour apple, grape, and fruity” flavored gum, cereal and treats. And then its time for one more night at a motel.
This time, its the one off the highway. The one with the really, really, really, long drive way to the Days Inn. Most of the other guests are truckers. The place usually looks like it was painted over many, many times as part of its effort to upgrade. The lobby entrance is a mix of low lighting and the blue bouncing off of the tv screen. The plants are fake with a coating of dust.
It’s the kind of motel where they provide you with an iron door stop to keep out the riff raff. The air conditioning is always a bit too cold and loud. The floral prints have turned to weed prints. Most of the caulk in the bath has peeled away. They don’t even bother letting you know that the bathroom was cleaned. And while they provide you a supply of towels, everyone you open up appears to be a hand towel. You want to complain, but by the time you figure you’re way around the maze of a motel, it will be morning.
And when you wake up, you aren’t sure whether the place is better in the day or at night. The cleaning staff looks like local high school drop outs or goths who got a job there because it was the best one in town. You want to sleep. Your body aches. You feel stuffy. You want a glass of water, but the glass looks a bit tinted from overuse and rusty water. You don’t want to turn the shower to “H” for cold and “C” for hot. But you know if you miss breakfast hours, there is no make up policy. So you dragged the family down there.
You sit and listen to truckers compare road tales. Despite swearing off excessive carbohydrates, you are forced to eat white bread, powdered donuts, Frosted Flakes, and drink coffee with Creamer packets. The place is so far down the motel totem pole, they don’t even have “waffle off.” Only then, do you realize how good you had it. The dining room is basically 10 card tables and some black chairs with minor rips and stuffing peeking out. You have to wonder if its even worth eating there and then its back on that long, long, long drive way.
Every rest stop feels like a burden. By now, the car is on cruise control and basically the kids are driving and drinking Mountain Dew. The rest stops all look the same because, well, they are all the same. Your legs feel like lead weights from sitting so long. And then for awhile you are cruising. You feel like you are almost home, but there is a festival or its a weekend or people are leaving work, so you inch along, listening to the same songs. The kids can’t watch Cars or the Incredibles one more time. And then, you make the turn into the garage.
The house feels stuffy. The big pack of mail is waiting for you. The microwave lights are blinking because the power went out for awhile while you were away. The laundry sits in a mountainous pile. You take a hot shower. The air conditioning starts to kick in. You watch a show you’ve been missing and then………….. fall asleep……. during the best part.
My wife and I were relaxing and talking when we heard my niece and my sons race up the stairs and say, ” J put a checker in his nose.” Next, I heard my wife say,”we’ll probably have to go to the emergency room.” I wish I could say I jumped up and hopped in the car. But since J continued to be silly and playful while telling us he did have a checker in his nose, it was hard for me to feel to anxious about the situation.
I should clarify that the checker was from a $1.00 store mini-checker set, so the checker was a foamy, black, circular checker the size of a finger nail. Apparently he was getting bored watching Ry and my niece play a round of checkers and did what any of us would do in that situation, he jammed the checker up his nose. Anyway, my wife called the doctor and to no one’s surprise, they said go to the Emergency Room.
So we had to negotiate a temporary 3 year old melt down before leaving. When J heard that my niece and Ry were going to watch a movie, while we took him to the E.R., he was mad that he couldn’t watch too. It still amazes me that three year olds don’t make the connection that we are going to the ER, not to punish them or deny them the chance to watch Willy Wonka, but rather to remove a foam checker that you inserted into your left nostril.
My wife smartly suggested we try Children’s Memorial Hospital rather than a larger hospital nearby. I hate that experience of going to a general ER and dealing with staff that are not as clued into kids or their parents. At Children’s, it was colorful and we had Sponge Bob on the tube. Definitely far less dreary or quiet than most emergency rooms.
The nurse wrapped a mini cuff around his arm to get his blood pressure. The nurse, and the doctor seemed genuinely curious about why he put the checker in his nose. J has learned the art of being shy and cute, which just distracts him from answering any uncomfortable questions. At first the doctor said those dreaded words, “wow, its really jammed up in there.” This was followed by J sneezing-but nothing came out. The doctor advised us that the current research has demonstrated that if we cover one nostril and my wife blows air into J’s mouth, the checker could pop out. We were open to this, especially since the option was to use some goop in his nose, to help break the foam into pieces till it came out.
So J was told to lay down on his side. As he was positioning himself in a comfortable position, he sneezed, and the checker flew in the air and landed on the Doctor’s grey lab coat. It took us a minute to locate it, but we all saw it fly. Another doctor came in to double check J and then we heard the words we were waiting for, “you are free to go.” I can’t say for sure, but from the way the doctors and nurses were checking him out as we left, I’m pretty certain J made the top ten list for interesting cases for the night.