Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Swabbing the Deck

Carol Burnett as the cleaning woman. ;) 


It’s funny how you tell the kids to clean their room or go get any cups, bowls, silverware, etc. from around the house, and they act like you’re depriving them of oxygen. 

Then you go to wash the floor, and suddenly they want to do something. And not just some easy task, something that’s a lot of work and needs to be done a certain way to do a good job on it.

So the other day I was tackling the kitchen floor. I had somehow psyched myself up for the job. And I don’t mean “Oh goody goody gumdrops!!! I can’t wait to wash the floor!!”

No, let’s be serious here, I only mean I had come to terms with it and accepted the fact that I really had to do it, and was just determined to get it done. I mean, my feet were sticking to the floor and at one point I left a flip behind me as I walked through the kitchen.

Yep, it was time.

So I got about three quarters of the floor swept, which took me a considerable amount of time. There was a lot I had to tackle with a knife, chipping away at gum, Life cereal squares dried onto the floor, and once light and airy marshmallows from the bag of Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys now serving as speed bumps. 

That’s when Timmy asked if he could wash the floor. I’m not sure why it seemed so glamorous a chore to him; I was sweating so much just sweeping, that it was running down into my eyes and dripping on the floor every time I turned my head, mixing with the dirt on the floor and making mud. 

But, not wanting to dampen his enthusiasm for offering to help, I said he could but there is a certain way to do it; it’s not as easy as it looks. 

“Well, all you do is dip it (the mop) in there (the bucket of water and cleanser) and push it back and forth,” he said.

“No,” I replied. “You need to dip it in the bucket and squeeze the water out, which I just did so it’s ready for you.”

I indicated the area of floor under the table and about a foot outwards, where the chairs normally sit. “Then you wash this area, only halfway under the table because I still have to sweep over the other side yet. And you wash right here, this area in front of the table.”

Timmy tried to take the mop, and I stopped him. “Wait. Then you rinse out the mop 3 times in the sink, squeezing the dirty water out after each time. Three times,” I emphasized. 

“Then you pick the chairs up, do NOT push them back to their places at the table; you’ll just make marks. Pick them up and place them at the table, then you dip the mop into the bucket again, squeeze it out, and go on to another area. If you do it in a methodical and logical way, you won’t be missing any area or walking back on the clean floor and getting it dirty again.”

Now I handed the mop to Timmy. He didn’t do too badly; he pushed the mop around, and I did have to remind him of what area to do, tell him not to walk on the clean wet area he just washed, etc.

He turned to the sink and rinsed the mop like I said, albeit with me guiding him again on how, do it three times, yada yada yada.

Then he put the chairs back at that side of the table and worked on another area. I reminded him that if there is something stuck, he needs to scrub at it with the mop and maybe even use a knife to scrape. Timmy did so accordingly.

After that second area, he rinsed the mop out again, and started washing right in front of the sink, where up until now he had stood working at this task. What he ended up doing was backing up as he washed that area, until he had now “painted himself into a corner.” 

Ah, another teaching opportunity. I once again told him, as he turned and stood with dirty shoes on the clean wet area he had just washed, that it’s not as easy as it looks. “You need to figure out where to wash next, and do it in a logical and methodical way so you don’t end up getting it dirty and having to wash an area all over again.” 

He figured out that he should have washed areas away from the front of the sink first, and left himself a path to get back to it each time he needed to rinse the dirty mop. 

I told him what he needed to do was wash that area he had backed himself into, rinse, and then re-wash the area in front of the sink. Then use the rag towel I have set aside to dry the area in front of the sink, then move on to the rest.

Timmy happily complied, and had by now washed almost a quarter of the kitchen floor. Then the mop head flew off. I told him that it sometimes happens, and because it’s difficult to get back on, I’d do it.

It took me a couple of minutes, and I rinsed the mop out so it would be ready again for Timmy. 

But when I turned around, he was nowhere to be found. Whatever appeal washing the kitchen floor had for him had left just as quickly as it had come. <sigh>

I just finished the floor; it took me 20 minutes instead of half an hour. 

Maybe today I’ll clean The Dreaded Bathroom. And maybe I’ll pull a Tom Sawyer routine with Timmy…

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