August 17, 2011

The Good Old Circle of Life

When you're 18 years old, graduating from high school, and standing out among the crowd in your cap, gown and tassel, the "Circle of Life" sounds pretty cool.  For the 18-year-old who is capable of introspection, it calls to mind images of your parents standing in this position themselves, only to watch their child march down the same long aisle between chairs in the same gymnasium or on the same football field some 30 years later, your mom getting all teary while your dad hands her his hanky and gruffly clears his throat a lot.

But when you're dealing with a screaming 2-year-old, and your own parents have already passed away, the Circle of Life no longer looks quite so friendly.  In fact, it greatly resembles some sadistic universal force that spends its time tormenting teething toddlers into giving you a headache, constantly reminding you that you're not as young and spry as you once were, either, and making you strongly suspect that your mom might be sitting in heaven, quietly enjoying a moment of satisfaction as she reminisces about what a nightmare YOU were at the age of 2!

Picture this:
I'm 4, and I'm standing on a step-stool in my maternal grandmother's kitchen on a hot summer day, blissfully enjoying the fact that the air-conditioner, a window unit, is hanging out of the kitchen window and therefore blowing directly into my face.  I'm wrapped in one of my grandmother's aprons, and I do mean wrapped, like a burrito--it envelops me three times before its strings finally meet in a neat little bow tied across my belly.  I'm up to my biceps in hot, soapy water, with which I am liberally painting counter tops, floor and my own socks and shoes, all in the pursuit of spotless dishes.  Grandma's thrilled to have a VOLUNTEER to do the dishes for a change, but the added mopping dims the joy of the experience for her just a bit.  Sighing aloud, she makes that age-old announcement that baffles children everywhere.  "Someday, we won't be able to DRAG you to the sink to do the dishes, so I should probably enjoy it while I can!"

Huh?!  My stunned 4-year-old mind says to itself, "Why would anyone NOT enjoy doing dishes?  You get to play in water AND watch stuff magically go from dirty to clean!  I can't imagine a more exciting way to spend my afternoon!  Shoot, that dirty to clean thing is just a little bonus.  I don't have a swimming pool!   I'll take ANY excuse to get soaking wet, even a bath!  I just love water!"

But time marches on, of course, and demonstrates to us as it does so that Grandma was right nearly as often as Mom was.  These days, nothing smaller than one of P. T. Barnum's circus tents will wrap around me three times, and my family is very blessed that our house is equipped with a dishwasher.  If it weren't, it's more likely that we'd periodically just buy NEW dishes than it is that I would stand over a sink washing them after our every meal.

Now picture THIS!

Oh, the irony!  At the ripe old age of 2, my daughter swiped the broom out of my hand last night while I was in mid-sweep, and dragged it all over the house in a completely ineffective but nonetheless impressive display of domestic acumen.  And what were the first words out of my mouth to her father?  "Too bad we won't be able to get her NEAR a broom when she's 16!"

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