It all started a few months back, while I was still pregnant. It was a normal weekday morning, which meant my nauseous & exhausted self was sleeping in and the 3 1/2 year old had free reign of the domain. Before he left for work, her papa had made sure anything dangerous left out the night before (like an open package of Oreos or writing utensils that could be used to tag the furniture with permanent ink) had been put away and sat her down in front of PBS kids programming with a bowl of cereal.
I was woken by the princess shaking my shoulder and insisting that I come "fix" the TV. Usually when this happened, she'd pushed a button on the front of our old TV and switched it off the channel that the cable comes through to grey fuzziness, which freaks her out. I moan, I groan, I turn over, and then I get up to rescue her from static oblivion.
After a few minutes of punching buttons, I notice that much of the television appears to be damp. And smells faintly of oregano. Even in my sleepy state, this sets off an alarm, but it's a quiet one. I tell her she'll have to wait for papa to get home to fix it, get out the play dough (yes, my kid gets to play with play dough unsupervised), and head back to bed. I get up for real a couple hours later and inspect the set again. This time, I recognize that vaguely spaghetti-sauce-smelling smell: Sol-U-Guard.
Last summer I got talked into trying (joining) the MLM giant Melaleuca - only as a customer, not as a salesperson - and surprisingly, I've found I really like many of their products. I prefer cleaning products that are not horrifically poisonous to my family or the planet and it's hard to find them reasonably priced, even in the environmentally conscious (obsessed) hamlet I live in. Sol-U-Guard is their botanical disinfectant and it's great stuff. It's pretty non-toxic so I keep a bottle on the kitchen counter for clean up, and apparently the princess is now tall enough to reach it.
When confronted with the evidence, she admitted to helping me clean up the "dirty old TV" with dish towels (which she hid in a pile behind the couch) and the spray from the counter (which she put back). I thanked her and we had a discussion about asking mama or papa for the correct tools to do a cleaning job next time since different jobs require different things to clean them (i.e. do NOT spray wet stuff directly into the control panel of an electronic device).
We waited a few days for it to dry out, but the wires didn't recover. The box was ten years old, so we felt we got good use out of it, but the idea of spending ten times more than the $60 we bought it for in order to replace it made us pretty unhappy campers. I was ready to go to Wal-Mart and buy whatever was on sale and big enough for me make out the picture while sitting on the sofa. I'm pretty irritable when my television (or my Internet connection) isn't working right. My husband remained level-headed and spent a week researching the best options in flat screen home theater systems. When all was said and done, we had 5.1 surround sound and a TV that could be mounted on the wall.
Fabulous! But we really weren't wired for all that, and none of the new stuff would fit in our old entertainment center... so we now have a living room theater with so much extra furniture in it you can't walk without tripping, and enough wiring strewn about to string up a suspension bridge (or alternately trip and break an ankle on). We've tried selling the furniture on craigslist, but despite the fact that it's nice stuff, no one seems to be in the market for it.
So yesterday, the guy who helps us with home improvement projects beyond our capabilities (which is most everything) came to drill holes, get the cables off the floor and start work on remodeling the shelves that will be on the wall that the TV will be on when we get the furniture gone and can actually put it up. S helps him out and finally we think of dinner at about 7:30pm. It would have been earlier except Mr. Fix-it brought his daughter and she was playing out in the backyard distracting the princess. I was feeding baby bear & folding the mountains of laundry which cover almost every surface at this point.
Through the open window I heard the neighbors ordering pizza and lost no time ordering some up myself. I went to pick it up and swung by the store to pick up root beer (Hansen's all natural was on sale and I feel way less guilty when I buy that instead of the "unnatural" varieties lining the 2 liter shelves) and vanilla ice cream (Breyers, with the little black vanilla specks in it, also on sale, so I stocked up). By the time we were eating it was after 8pm, and we finished around 9pm, just as Mr. Fix-it left.
Now, I could have prepared pbj sandwiches for everyone, mixed up some frozen lemonade and left it at that... but some days you have to let the magic in. Eating pizza and root beer floats with my daughter in the warm summer dusk, way past bed time, is one of those moments that I'm glad I didn't let pass me by. There will be plenty of nights ahead for sticking to routines and creating order out of the chaos. Yet as I write that last sentence, I realize that last night was something I want to make sure is part of our lives on a regular basis. I want "order" to mean joy amid the chaos and I want the ability for spontaneity to be "routine" in our lives.