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Wednesday, March 29, 2006  

Vacuuming Doesn't Suck Any More

You know those little kids who are fearless, the kind that don't shrink from dogs thrice their size? The kind whose reaction to strangers is a hearty, "Hi!" The kind who clamber around on the adults in the room like Cirque du Soleil performers on a cargo net, because they're agile, and the grown-ups always catch them, and even if they don't the pavement's only five or six feet down? The kind who aren't afraid of anything but the vacuum cleaner? That's my kid. Except he's not afraid of the vacuum cleaner.

As long as he's been able to move around, he's loved vacuuming time. The first time he crawled, it was to try to chase the noisy machine whirring around the living room rug. The first time he walked wasn't to intercept it, but the second time was. And the first time he got all tangled up in the cord and face-planted on the floor, I picked him up, apologized deeply for my carelessness, and had to make a grab for him when it turned out to be a cynical ruse to steal my appliance right out from under me.

All babies have their own names for the important things in their life. Trash and I are "Mama" and "Dada," respectively, the cats are "Keedee" (although they've recently been promoted to "KeedeeKAH" in general, and Turtle in particular to "Turl" with proper coaching), and a new battery-powered bubble machine not only turned the whole neighborhood into the beginning of The Lawrence Welk Show, but also had him addressing each bubble individually as "bah-bah." But the vacuum cleaner has had its name the longest. It is called, simply, "AAAAAAAA!"

He knows exactly what's going on every time I drag that Singer out of the study into the living room and start unspooling the cord. I go to plug it in in the bathroom, and he stays out there admiring and worshipping and supplicating to his upright idol instead of following me in there to try to steal the toilet brush like usual. Sometimes the vacuum switch is still on from last time, and it gives a little yelp before I pull the plug out. In which case M. Small yelps right back.

But they really get into a conversational rhythm when the vacuuming begins in earnest.

M. Small: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
M. Small: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

And so on. They could debate this for hours.

I used to hate vacuuming. It seemed like such a waste of time to wrestle that thing out every couple of months and go over the carpet in the same boring old patterns. I don't have that problem any more. Now it comes out every couple of days, and the pattern changes every time. That's because M. Small leads it in what a game of cat and mouse would look like if the mouse thought it was the cat and the cat had a handle on it that led up to my hand. He runs after it and it dodges around him, cleaning the spot where he was just standing. It feints in one direction and goes in the other. It ducks behind him and around, making abrupt turns and curlicues that leave M. Small befuddled. And sometimes he catches up, puts his hands on the humming hood, puts his face up against the little light, and goes, "AAAAAAAAA!"

It takes longer to vacuum than it used to, and I don't exactly have those hotel-lobby-carpet stripes when I'm done, but it's a lot more fun than it used to be. I don't even really want a Roomba any more.

I'm already dreading the day when the joy of this simple task is gone for him, because when it is it'll be gone again for me, too. I'm trying to stretch it out as long as I can, of course. I've shown him games like spinning around, and rhythmically plugging his ears against the noise, and chasing mom instead of child, and it seems to be working. One of his favorite toys at home is a little popper thingy that he wheels around on the floor, and I've recently learned that his favorite toy at day care is a toy vacuum cleaner. Apparently he takes it around with him everywhere. This morning I let him hold the broom for a while, and he laughed and sang to it as though he was in the end of one of those movies where the animals walk all the way across the country to get home, but with a broom instead of a special pet. A Target broom, no less.

I had a brief scare last week that his love for the vacuum cleaner may have waned, that he'd lose interest in the thing before reaching an age where I can hand it off to him permanently. I was clearing the toys and books and pillows off the living room rug. This usually excites him because he knows what's coming. But this time all he did was leave the room. I finished clearing, calling out to him, saying "It's time for AAAAAA" and such things, but he didn't come back. So I gave up and went into the study to find the vacuum, hoping the noise would bring him back.

He was already in there, trying to haul the vacuum cleaner out for me. That's my boy.

Today's best search phrase: "Math smart heavy ugly angry." Which is so weird, because it also happens to be the only thing anyone ever wrote in my high school yearbook.

posted by M. Giant 6:51 PM 11 comments


Oh my God! You're SO funny!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 29, 2006 at 7:13 PM  

My 2 little cousins LOVE the vacuum. REALLY love it. They have their own toy ones, and now I think they have real ones too. It makes their mom really happy.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 29, 2006 at 8:17 PM  

Before you went and had a kid, I NEVER wanted kids. But the more I see and hear about M. Small...

DAMN YOU, M. Giant! COuldn't you have told us the horrible days stories?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 30, 2006 at 6:44 AM  

Me and my two-and-a-half-year old can relate, except his love is the swiffer. Ohhhhh, The Swiffer, his love, his muse. He grabs it up like a drum major, marches to a nice large swath of floor, and sings. I LOVE this child.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 30, 2006 at 7:12 AM  

DO you know what you need? One of those battery-charged broom things. It puts all of M. Small's favorites together: it makes noise, it doesn't have a cord, it's light weight, AND it will actually do some work. Everybody wins!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 30, 2006 at 7:42 AM  

The Roomba will probably keep him entertained for hours on end. Quite frankly it terrifies me.

By Blogger princessprattle, at March 30, 2006 at 6:37 PM  

You are made of awesomeness.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at March 31, 2006 at 9:18 AM  

ovaries...twitching...must...resist...biological clock...

Damn youuuuuu!!!!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 31, 2006 at 7:22 PM  

You never fail to make me laugh, but this time, the toddler-vacuum debate, I laughed even more than usual! I'm finally up to season 5 of Six Feet Under on dvd, and I'm looking forward to your recaps as much as the episodes themselves.

By Blogger Unknown, at April 2, 2006 at 10:24 AM  

Those popper thingies are kiddie crack. I had one when I was small, and I was fiercely, rabidly protective of it. Much to my younger brother's grief.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 3, 2006 at 1:30 AM  

That whole post was one long "awwwww" for me. I hope when I have kids they're as awesome as M. Small!

By Blogger Charlotte Smith, at April 4, 2006 at 6:01 PM  

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