I have to admit it: my housekeeping skills are disappointing. In fact one of my life upgrades this year was regular housecleaning. Right now my biggest problem at home is a mountain. Literally.
Katie says: I don’t want to be in this picture!
By the way, all this laundry is clean. The main reason why it hasn’t been put away is this:
I love Ikea. Most of our furniture is sourced from there whether bought directly or second hand on Craigslist . I love Ikea so much that I refer to the furniture by its name in the catalog that has a semi permanent place in the bathroom for reading and browsing purposes. The above is a representative picture of the interior of my 6-drawer Malm dresser which I bought for $40 from a desperate-because-I-have-to-vacate-my-apartment-by-midnight student. Katie’s clothes are in a similar dresser with have the same sagging phenomenon.
Fortunately, this problem is a pretty easy fix (not duct tape, although I had already tried that). About 3-4 months ago, I got some little plastic parts (free when you ask) meant to go under the bottoms to support the now saggy shelf with the full intention installing them immediately. In the meantime, my (clean) laundry has reached new heights. I was pretty proud of myself for figuring out to rotate the shelf part of the drawer so the saggy part goes in the front where there is more support. After the first 2 drawers (there were 7 that needed refurbishing), I kind of knew what I was doing. With a Philips and straight screwdriver, a moderate amount of swearing, and some help from little hands, our clothes receptacles are good as new.
My next projects: the supporting metal rails under my bed and putting together a Bjursta table await. Meanwhile, planning to have a GoT marathon while folding and putting away.
Today was a perfect day to go to a sprinkler park. We made a day of going to Downtown Boston with best friend Wubby, them in swimsuits and me in my trusty summer hat. The girls were a cheap date. We took the T ($2), played in the Rose Kennedy Greenway Rings fountain (free) and had ice cream from Emack and Bolios ($3/kiddie cone) while looking at seals in the New England Aquarium (free). The girls decided to walk to the Frog Pond for more water play (free) and a carousel ride ($3) with the caveat that we would rest as needed. Rest turned out to be Dunkin Donuts (munchkins for them, dark roast iced coffee for me) and Bath and Body Works for personal sparkly hand sanitizer ($1.50 with case).
How refreshing it is to explore the city with children. They donned their sunglasses and sashayed like they owned the place. They took turns looking for the “red brick road” aka Freedom Trail that would lead us to our destination. They tried not to chase the pigeons and waited for me to cross the street with them. Wubby was more genial than my daughter, chirping a bright “Hi!” or “Hello” to every tourist, baby or dog that came our way. Inevitably, we met people for whom the streets have become home. And before I could stop her, she was already talking to a girl who looked like she was in her 20s.
Wubby: (reading from sign) Every bit helps…homeless. (To lady) What does homeless mean?
Girl on street: It means I don’t have a place to live.
GOS: I lost my job so I can’t pay for a place to live. But I am looking and hopefully soon I can have a home.
Wubby: My family is moving to another house but you can’t live in our apartment because the people downstairs are having twins so they are moving upstairs.
GOS: That’s ok. If they are having twins they must need the space more than me.
Wubby: (pointing to backpack) What’s in there?
Katie: Is that ALL of your stuff?
We try to shield our children from the unpleasant, and the ugly, and hope they will never have to deal with these things. Avoidance makes it easier to tune things out and pretend that all is well but we lose the opportunity to teach tolerance and compassion. The reality is that the world is not all pink and fluffy, but black and white and infinite shades of gray all of which our children deserve to know about, if not experience. In their innocence, neither girl was uncomfortable discovering the harshness of life.
We resumed walking and I answered more questions. I stopped myself from telling Katie that we were homeless too, once, and that Wubby’s parents had been one of those who had offered us a place to stay. I held their sticky hands when what I really wanted to do was give them a big hug.
“Peng, how come some people can’t have a place to live? Why isn’t there work for everybody?”
“I wish me and Wubby could be fairies and unicorns with magic so we can give her a home.”
“If me and Katie were giants or Martians maybe we can give that lady a job and we can MAKE her a house.”
Thank you Katie and Wubby. You are hope for the future.
P.S. While chatting, we found out that our new friend had worked with animals before she lost her job. I was able to tip her about applying to my old workplace. I hope she finds work soon.
For her 6th birthday, my daughter had 2 requests. The first one was “Please pick me up from school and take me to the beach”
Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Walden Pond was the nearest “beach” and katie spent a good afternoon splashing and playing with sand. Her teachers thought it was a great way to spend a birthday. Her classmates, in a sugar high from Keyks cupcakes, all wanted to come along.
Simplify! Simplify! Splash!
The second request: “I want to have dinner with my whole family” was a bit more tricky.
Katie’s father and I separated when she was a little more than a year old. At that time I didn’t think I wanted us to have anything to do with him or his family ever again. But if years of therapy has taught me anything, it is this: there are no ex-parents. No matter what happened between us, if she wanted to she would be free to get to know him and his side of her genetic make up.
My friends think this is heroic of me but let me tell you, it ain’t heroic at all. It is AWKWARD and WEIRD. But it has only gotten less so over time. And hey, single moms need all the help they can get– this at least was a dinner that I didn’t have to pay for or cook.
the birthday girl with her Boston family
Happy 6th birthday to my light and joy!