“Mom… Does the big vacuum cleaner work?” Slow Walker asks for the third time before I answer. I think they’re so used to asking, asking and asking, they don’t think twice about waiting in line for an answer.

“The green one?” I ask.  We have a central vac that came with our house. It’s a bit temperamental.

“Uh … the big one.” (which is the green one)

“Yes honey. It works.” …. pause…. more important question, “Why?”

I guess it’s probably better to start with “why” when an 8 year-old asks if a vacuum cleaner is working.

“My plasma ball broke and the glass is all on our floor.  I just wanted to make sure the vacuum cleaner works.”

“Oh, honey.  Next time, please come tell me when something breaks. Let’s go upstairs and clean it up

He then went into the details surrounding said accident.

It really was just an unfortunate accident. … And I felt bad for Slow Walker. He loved that plasma ball.

I got the broom and dust pan for the big pieces then headed upstairs.  As I walked into Slow Walker & Teen Take-Out’s bedroom (everyone shares in our house … except for Jack who’s still in our closet), I was met with quite a surprise. A completely clean floor.

“Where’s the ball?”

TTO, SW & their cousin explain that they cleaned it all up. TTO had picked up the larger chunks (cutting his finger in the process), put it in the trash can, then vacuumed the rest.


I need to take a moment to share with you TTO’s aversion to the vacuum cleaner.  He has hated the thing from a very early age. I saved vacuuming for times when the kid was out of the house. For him, it wasn’t just the loud sound (he hated that), it was also the indiscriminate suction that claimed a few of his treasured items. A former house keeper had no problems knocking around things as she hurried through a room, letting the vacuum gobble them up.

By vacuuming, not only had TTO met one of his nemeses (Treasure Island, home-made meals, fruit being a few others) head on, but he also went a major step further. Feeling bad for Slow Walker’s loss, the kid dug into his own treasured items and gave his younger brother his shark teeth and fossil to make up for the broken ball. TTO didn’t even drop the thing, yet his heart went out to his brother as empathy set in. (He’s empathetic! Who knew??!!)

Very cool shark teeth, thoughtfully purchased on a trip to Florida.

Proudly displayed for years in a special no-touch zone on his desk.

Treasured fossil.

I can’t remember where he got this.

He has quite a rock collection … this is his only fossil.

I stood there, letting it all sink in. He had stepped up to the plate in a big and selfless way, acting as a servant leader for two sets of eyes that admire and watch his every move. (Those eyes sometimes see less admirable actions than this occasion … as far as I know).

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Which takes me to another layer… the kid would never have told me what he did. He rarely toots his own horn. He often gets the short end of the stick as siblings nark on him. Throw in his often sour, apathetic attitude and … well, I don’t often see what he was displaying as he served his brother and cousin.

Aahhh. Letting it sink in. Boy was I proud. It took everything I had to not run to my car and scour the city for a new plasma ball. But I let the situation fall where it did. The boys were sad about what happened and they worked it out in their own manner. I kept my grubby paws out of it  (okay, so I snuck back and vacuum the floor once more), then headed to meet the rest of my day.

I also let it sink in that some of what we’ve been doing for the last six months has paid off. I’m embarrassed to admit that only a few short months ago, he probably would not have even known where the vacuum lived in our house… let alone how to turn it on or how to move things out of the way so you get everything clean. He might not have known where I keep their bathroom trash can into which he had discarded the larger pieces of glass.

In as much as berate him for his less than laudable things, I made sure he knew what a great job he had done.

Later, riding in the car (of course!), my moment of bliss is shattered as TTO lands a slug on my innocent arm, “Punch Buggy. No punch back.”

“What?” I ask, annoyed. Like I have the luxury of spotting a Volkswagen Bug and hitting my car-mate.

“Punch Buggy.”

“I’m not playing.”

“Mom, the game is always on.”

“Well … I’m not playing. And, I’m your mom… not some kid you can hit. Plus Im a girl. Don’t punch me.”

“Mahhhhmmm. It didn’t hurt you.”

(For the record, it did hurt.)

He squeezes my arm. “Hey … (squeeze, squeeze) It feels like pudding.”


Thanks for walking the road with me.

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