One day while my five year old son was in kindergarten, I decided to clean their bedroom. I usually didn’t do this because I felt that was their private space. But on this one day I decided to vacuum and dust and the three year old angel was going to help.
My mom used to tell me if we worked together we’d get done faster. But she was on the phone with friends while I was doing all the work. It wasn’t going to be like that when I grew up!
So after lunch we changed sheets, piled the laundry in a basket, and we both dusted and put wood polish on the furniture. While we worked we talked about our day. He told me who he played with after breakfast and I told him what I was fixing for dinner. Bonding over house cleaning, who would have thought!
The high-boy dresser was last since to clean behind since it was so large and heavy. As I slowly moved it away from the wall, something fell from behind it. I couldn’t tell what it was, but the further I pulled the dresser out more stuff fell into a pile on the carpet.
At first, I couldn’t describe what I was looking at. On closer inspection I realized they were all uneaten half sandwiches, and there were lots of them: peanut butter and jelly, bologna and cheese, salami, you name it, it was in the pile. And they were all in different stages of decay. There were green ones, brown ones and even purple ones. Some were covered in grey mold, some had gone black, and others looked as if they were sprouting new sandwiches. I wanted to puke.
Amazingly, there were no insects or mice! The little guy stood next to me also stunned as my jaw dropped in horror.
“What is all this?” I demanded. He just shook his head and said nothing.
“Tell me the truth, did you do this?”
“No, it must have been my brother,” still stunned.
I sent him to the kitchen to get a few brown paper grocery bags. After we put gloves on, we filled 3 bags full with this debris. I put them to one side of the room and we continued with our cleaning, in disgust.
“Are you really sure you don’t know anything about this? Don’t lie to me, just tell me the truth,” I must have asked him 50 times for the truth and each time he looked at me hurt that I didn’t believe him.
“Mommy, I didn’t do this.” He stood his ground.
“You know, if you can only eat half a sandwich, then that’s all you have to eat. You don’t hide food where all kinds of insects and mice can have a nice buffet.”
“I know Mommy.”
“Besides, don’t you know there are children in China starving?” (Oh, oh, that was my mom) I went on, “Well, just wait until your brother comes home. We’ll get to the bottom on this, you better not be lying to me.”
“I’m not, Mom!” He said with those big blue eyes swelling with tears streaming down his sweet baby face. And I believed him, what a good little boy, he was Mommy’s Helper.
We finished cleaning by the time my five-year-old came home. He called out to us saying he was home and I called him to come see use in the bedroom.
He walked in and a huge smile came across his face. “Mom, you cleaned our room? It looks great. Thank you.”
“I’m glad you like it, your brother helped. But can you tell me what’s in those bags?” He walked over to the grocery bags and peered into one of them. Confused, he got a little closer and took a better look.
He turned and looked at me and asked “What is it?”
“You don’t know what that is?” I asked in an accusing voice.
“No, but it’s making me sick and I think I’m going to throw up.” He turned pale and then he gagged.
“Where did you find these?” he asked.
“Take a closer look and you can have one final guess.” Then I told him what happened when I moved the dresser.
He looked and when he realized what he was seeing, he turned to the three year old and with a shocked look on his face he asked “So that’s where you were hiding your sandwiches every day, behind the dresser?”
Caught! Baby-Face turned from pink to purple to red and looked at me and put his head down.
“WHAT? It was you?” I shrieked. “All day long you’ve lied to me, told me it was your brother, and it was you all along? What’s the matter with you, how could you lie to me like this?”
He just looked at me “But mom, I never can eat a whole sandwich.”
“I can’t either. Why don’t you just do what I do? Go to the bathroom and flush it down the toilet?” The older brother said.
WHAT???? Oh God, that’s just great, I thought to myself, I was going to have rats in one room and sandwiches overflowing from the plugged toilet in the other.
Sitting down at the kitchen table over a snack of milk and cookies, we agreed from that day forward, the boys would continue to clean their room, I’m done with that chore. But now they were to fix their own lunches, in the amount they wanted, and they were to eat everything they fixed. But without bathroom breaks.