Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cleaning Machine

Collecting one's thoughts at a public terminal in the library is, it turns out, even more challenging than collecting them at home with children screaming for supper. Probably just a matter of custom, though.

The house has been on the market for nearly a week now. I am gratified to discover that I can, in fact, keep a house in spotless condition, and even more gratified to discover that it doesn't do a thing for me and thus I can blissfully discontinue it as soon as we have a buyer.

It's not that I'm lazy or disorganized. The work is fine and I know exactly what needs to be done. I just don't see the point. You wash all the windows and two days later they are spotty again. You move the furniture to paint and wax and move it back and ding the paint and scratch the wax. In short, a house can take exactly as much of your time as you allow it to take. And under ordinary circumstances, it certainly shouldn't take this much of mine. Although I have to admit that always getting up to a clean kitchen is a nicety that should not be neglected when possible.

But a house that is constantly tidy is, to my mind, a bit dull. The point of cleaning up is to have some grand event and then do something else. Indeed, one reason why I can keep it clean so easily now is that there is nothing else for me to do. The books are packed away. The computer is gone. I don't have a car. Nothing to do all day--between diapers and meals--but clean, clean, clean. This is turning me into the sort of obsessive-compulsive woman who greets her guests with newspapers so they won't walk on the floor. I had real difficulty yesterday walking to the park and not stopping to pull all the weeds to the sidewalk on the way.

Fortunately I know this level of obsession is normal for me with any new project and will cease as soon as the impetus does, if not a bit sooner. So far we've had a showing or open house or both nearly every day except today. The next two days already have one each booked. I've become an expert at dismantling the babies' beds and stashing them in the closet so people will notice the size of the room and not try to count up how many children we keep in it.

Meanwhile, the children go about their business with some relief that the really intensive stage of both parents wielding paintbrushes to all hours of the night is over. The babies have somehow transformed from taking a few experimental steps to staggering all over the house, bouncing off the walls to turn like novice roller skaters. With their push toys and bikes banished to the basement, they resort to racing the few remaining chairs across the echoing living room.

The older ducklings like to play selling houses and buying houses and building houses out of Duplos. We've even done a few days of school when things seemed a bit dull during the babies' nap. They still think it's a great treat and beg for it, and it remains a great treat as long as I don't plan too hard. This week, on the spur of the moment, we've learned numbers that add to five, started Spanish, and started D2 on actual reading lessons (which D1 insisted on being included in, even though she had her own). I can see my decision to keep them together for school, at least initially, is the right one; otherwise I would simply have to repeat both sets of lessons twice, as neither can bear for the slightest variation from what the other does. Also I don't know why a sketch drawn on the spur of the moment of how A Fat Cat Sat On a Mat is so much more enticing than a book with it all laid out years in advance, but it is.


Rachelle said...

I don't envy your current life. I hope it is very temporary and someone snaps up your spotless house and you can move on!

My mom made doing "school" very sporadic in the beginning and punishment was "no school today." It worked very well to make me a ravenous learner. It's the way to go with little ones.

Aimee said...

I loved this post.

I agree with you thoughts on housekeeping. I too have better things to do!

Steve said...

House cleaning is an addiction that it's best to break yourself of. I kicked the habit years ago.

Wendy said...

Had to laugh about the sketch vs. printed book. We teach a lot of reading on a magna doodle. Is seeing the letters form part of the magic?

Good luck with the house thing, it sounds like you have a lot looking, so I hope it won't be too long before you have some buying.