It took very little in the way of persuasive argument, but I was able to convince the girls to eat ice cream this evening, rather than “clean the whole house” like Clara had first recommended. With Andrea gone for the night, I wanted to bring some balance to the household that is so regularly and lovingly managed by my wife during the day.

But there are evil forces that lurk in these walls, and the dark spirits of house cleaning are not easily ignored.

We snuggled in on the couch in the master bed room. The three of us, each with a tiny cup of spontaneous chocolate ice cream watching a cartoon about The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It was about 10 minutes in, just after the caterpillar had eaten through a slice of watermelon and was feeling quite ill, that Lydia lost her drowsy grip on her ice cream dish. She jolted awake, squirmed off the couch and drunkenly announced something about spilling chocolate on “the chair”. What had happened was her nearly untouched ice cream had melted to a thin malt and had been completely overturned between the two couch cushions of Andrea’s grandmother’s antique couch.

At this point, three things happened simultaneously:
1) I instinctively grab a soggy fist full of brown ice cream off of the finely crafted and well preserved piece of furniture and frantically try to decide where to put it while running dripping circles around the room and ordering Clara to get a wet rag.
2) Clara, however, is already bolting for the linen closet in the hallway. When she arrives, she diligently empties its entire contents onto the hallway floor and returns with a single wash cloth no larger than what a frog would use as a bathrobe. She then makes it into a sopping wet ball in the bathroom sink and throws it into my chest while I continue to run in circles singing about napkins.
3) Lydia, very apologetically runs to the corner of the bed and empties the wicker basket there of all of her diapers and wipes and then drags it and places it haphazardly upside down next to her mother’s dresser. She then proceeds to use it as a step stool to reach an overfull glass of water which her mother has left from the night before. Presumably Lydia intends to help Clara wet a rag; however, as soon as she gets a grip on the glass the wicker basket crumbles on one side and the little girl and the water glass come down sideways spilling water on the bed, the floor, the other side of the couch, and also my phone which happened to be on the floor next to the dresser, and which also helped break Lydia’s fall.

So, the rest of the evening was spent in disaster recovery, detailing the antique couch, vacuuming under the cushions, rearranging closets, mopping up wet carpet, beds and phones, and generally rolling around on the floor laughing at the chaos.

Oh, foul demons of house cleaning, you may think you have won today. But, know one thing well. You can make us stoop to scrub a couch on your whim, but our heart will never be in it, and you shall never take our souls.