This morning I was feeling a little down in the dumps – lack of sleep, combined with heat, combined with a course of antibiotics, combined with the general malaise associated with trying to settle into a new house with three children and the figuring out of daily routines.
So much of my time at the moment is spent on pure domesticity – hardly a minute to spare for study, let alone writing – and today looked like it was going to be more of the same dull stuff as I dashed about scooping up clothes for the washing machine.
I was seething in front of the washing machine, shoving stuff in in a strop, focused totally on the next job and Getting Things Done when up popped this little chap.
“What are you doing? Can I do that too?”
Uh, sure. Why not.
So he toddled off and came back with the washing basket from his room. I stood back and watched as he spent ten minutes in transports of delight, shoving his own washing into the machine.
I let him pour the detergent in and press all the buttons.
It made him so happy. I mean, seriously, he was nearly doing backflips.
And then he made me sit down with him and watch the machine.
Not the most interesting activity you may be thinking. Ordinarily I’d agree with you but there’s something about watching a washing machine with a very small child that is just… well, let’s just say their sense of fascination and wonder is catching.
We pressed the button and settled back to watch the show. Everything was so interesting to him – the way the drum began to spin, slowly at first, turning one way and then the other; the noise of the water starting – where was it? How long would it take to hit the clothes? Then the bubbles foaming up from underneath – there were quite literal shrieks of glee as they appeared. He figured out how to open the detergent drawer and spent ages opening and shutting it, comparing the noise levels and checking to see if the water was swishing through it.
Watching his excitement and answering his questions, gradually I started to get drawn in – the task, seen from his perspective, was exciting. And then, sitting on the laundry floor, I looked up through the screen door and instead of just seeing boring roof lines and the wire screen, from that angle I could see blue sky and clouds and it was suddenly transformed into something beautiful.
It was a small moment but one that rippled through the rest of my day, reminding me that when things look boring or bleak, sometimes you just need to look at them a different way.