Sheer Trickery

By 8:30 a.m.:I’ve had two cups of coffee while watching Cartoon Network with Liam since 6:18 a.m. A bad dream woke him up. A bear came into his classroom and ate his friend’s face. Then it came after Liam. Probably one of these goofy bears on Cartoon Network.

Bill leaves at 7:15 to take Will to school. Liam at 7:45 has clothes on, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, coat on, and lunch packed. Then, at 8:00, the yelling as he gets out of the car at school. His? Mine? My memory is fuzzy.

I’m at the car wash by 8:10. With an early release day for my oldest son, Will, I’m taking him and four of his friends to a trampoline park in the afternoon. The van needs to be vacuumed, and I find it easier to pay $2 at the car wash with that big suction hose hanging at-the-ready than finding extension cords and threading them through the garage to the Shop Vac. Not to mention finding that little R2D2-shaped sucker somewhere in the garage. Or basement?

There’s no line at the vacuum station. It’s raining heavily, yet I choose this outdoor hose. I manage to suck out the two bench seats and the floors on that $2, but not the front of the van. I’m only trying to excavate the back as that’s where the boys will be sitting, where my sons have their daily mid-afternoon snacks. At the grocery store check-out line, I ran into a friend who has five boys. In our discussion about van excavations such as these, she said, “I have only two words for you: leaf blower.” With the vacuum, I know I leave a lower level layer of unseen refuse.

I don’t know Will’s friends’ families. This is the first time I’m taking Will and his school buddies out for the day. I’m going to vacuum up he and Liam’s loose Goldfish and other crumbs, for he’s nearing that age where he might be embarrassed by the mess in the back seat. And on that note, I don’t want to embarrass him at lunch. When we go to lunch after the trampoline park, how involved do I get in their conversation? Do I smile and nod a lot? Take a book and sit at another table?

At 8:30 I arrive home. I have an hour before I leave again. I need to get myself cleaned up. I’m damp from the soaking at the car wash. A bath sounds good. I smile knowingly about my inventive bath.

I take a cup of tea to my bathroom and set it in the tub rack. I hose down the tub and rinse away a couple weeks’ worth of dust. I light candles on the side table. I start running warm water to fill the tub, squirting wonderfully smelling bubble bath into the stream of water. Then I leave the room and close the door, letting the bath steep.

Next door in the boys’ bathroom, I brush my teeth. Then I put away clothes and straighten up our closet and our bedroom. The sound of water running into a pool changes. I can tell the distance between the faucet and the water level has shortened substantially.

As I open the spa room door, my senses are tickled. The air is filled with the aroma of the bubble bath. Peeking around the door, I see flames quietly flickering, just enough light for reading or writing in the tub. Clouds of bubbles hover a couple inches from the top edge of the tub. The tea is a drinkable temperature. The only noise is rain on the window and bubbles popping. My journal and pen are on the side table. I smile and think, “All for me! I should come here more often.”

That three-minute steep makes it feel like all was planned by another. All just for me. Sheer trickery. Akin to walking into the house at Christmas time and seeing the tree completely lit up; in turn, I light up at the sight of the tall glowing bush in my living room. The hours spent wrapping the 6-foot green tree in lights and hanging nostalgic ornaments all made for the moment of walking in and seeing this beautiful sight. Waiting for me. And every night during the Christmas season, I go to bed leaving all of them on as Bill stays up and snags quiet time for himself. He’s my elf that darkens the lights for the night. Every night I go to bed with the light of the season shining bright.

From the bath tub, it’s too dark to see the clock on the opposite wall. Sweat is running down my face: a sure sign the bath is nearing its end.

I blow out the candles, pull the plug, and dry off. I get ready as I would on any normal jump-in-and-out-of-the-shower morning.

I don’t worry about the empty tea cup, the ring of bubbles on the floor of the tub, or the journal and pen on the side table. I’m sure someone will be up later to clear this spa room. Perhaps the Laundry Maven, for she seems to have conquered the laundry room.

A family ski trip is torturous: The Laundry Maven: Up in Arms... Again.