“Mama, when we gonna wash you and Daddy’s cah,” says the little one.
I had been promising the boys for a week that we would wash our cars. I imagined them in their shorts and t-shirts, all soaked and soapy. They would use those giant, yellow sponges, dunking them in and out of a sudsy bucket, bubbles landing on the lawn and in their hair. I would get the top of the car, they would stick to the bottom, all of us doing an adequate-if-not-crappy job. Pretending to rinse the car, I would sneak up and spray them with the hose and the day would end in a huge water fight. Finally, both cars would be clean and we’d collapse in the yard, drying in the sun.
Here’s what really happened…
The west side of L.A. isn’t always the “Sunny California” that I had been promised when we moved here. In fact, most mornings are overcast and cool. This means little, possibly nothing, to my kids. To them, 7 a.m. on a Saturday is a completely reasonable time to get outside and wash a car or two. The big one already had on his bathing suit and trying to find his goggles. I stupidly tried to argue that he didn’t need the goggles but more importantly, we weren’t going out yet. It was too early and not warm enough. We live on a block with a lot of kids, but I swear to you, I have the loudest ones and they have the loudest mother but that is another story for another day. The point is, we weren’t going outside yet and both kids were having a meltdown over it. The big one yelling’ over and over that I promised we’d wash cars and the little one just standing there naked, holding his bathing suit and crying. I start by explaining (probably more like pleading) that we are going to wash cars, it is just too early. This argument should have stopped then but no one ever accused my children of being less than bright. They could use this to their advantage. I swear the big one is going to be a Hollywood agent because he stops the tears immediately and says, “Okay Mom, I have an idea. Give us each treat and let me watch a show and we’ll stop crying.”
Uh, excuse me? You are 5, I am 40. I make the decisions around here, right? So I, like an idiot, start negotiating with him.
“Well, you can watch a show, but you can’t have a treat. It’s too early.”
“I know, how about a breakfast treat, maybe a poptart?”
“Fine, but I get to pick whatever I want to watch.” And he walks away.
Mind you, we haven’t even gone outside yet. I am too tired to argue, so I make another pot of coffee and think about whether or not 7 a.m. is too early for naptime.
FINALLY, 9:00 a.m. arrives and everything is all set for car wash fun. Boys are sunscreened, sponges in hand. Two minutes in (and I’m being generous on that estimate), the boys are fighting over the hose, the little one is screaming because he has soap in his eyes and the big one is trying to ‘help’ by spraying him in the face with the hose. The little one never fully recovered and sat on the lawn crying while the big one climbed on top of his dad’s car, parked on the street. Flash forward five minutes and both escaped to the backyard to play and I washed both cars alone. Oh, and the sun did break through so at least it was warm, but I neglected to put sunscreen on myself and got a burn.
At lunch, the kids spent the entire time telling their dad how fun it was washing cars. At least I got to dry off in the backyard while they ate.