Monday, November 09, 2009

Clean up

Anyone who knows my husband knows how much he prizes a clean house. Alas, I do not place quite the same priority on cleanliness. If cleanliness is next to godliness, I’m somewhere between purgatory and hell. Unfortunately for my husband, our kids have inherited my tendencies and not his.

But I do know when the house crosses the line, and I do try to keep myself closer to purgatory than hell in the clean house department. Consequently, I’m not a big fan of messy projects. I don’t like things that might involve serious cleaning up time, and woe to the child who wants to do something that might result in dragging out the floor cleaner or other appliance. That’s what art class is for.

Anyhow, the 10-year-old wanted to make Puppy Chow. Puppy Chow, or Muddy Buddies, is basically Corn Chex coated in a chocolately, peanut butter coating and topped with powdered sugar. It’s a shame that something so good has to be so messy.

I was feeling benevolent, though, and said sure, let’s make it. I carefully heated up the butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips, and poured them over the Chex cereal. Then I scooped the cereal into a Ziplock bag, trying hard not to spill the chocolate covered mixture over the side. Finally, Emily and I added powdered sugar to the bag. I closed it and gave it to Emily to shake.

Mission accomplished, with only a few dirty bowls that would clean up quickly. As Emily started shaking, I reminded her to be careful and make sure the bag doesn’t open. Famous last words, right?

The moment I turned, I heard the words every mother dreads: “Uh oh.” The bag had opened, and the floor was covered with Puppy Chow and powdered sugar. The dog had been lying on the floor in the kitchen, and she, too, had a streak of powdered sugar in her fur. If you could read dog minds (which I can), you’d know she was saying, “HOLY COW. THIS IS GREAT. I LIE DOWN AND ALL OF A SUDDEN LITTLE CHOCOLATE GOODIES ARE RAINING ON ME. WOO HOO, IT’S MY LUCKY DAY!”

My typical reaction began to form. Didn’t I tell her to be careful? Holy moly, there’s a huge mess on the floor. This is why I don’t like to make snacks, because something always happens. Now I’m going to have to drag out the vacuum, and the floor cleaner, and we have to clean up this mess before the dog eats it and throws up on the carpet in an hour. I saw Emily’s face, waiting for the inevitable parental meltdown over the mess.

Then I looked at my powdered-sugar-covered floor and the dog who was happily munching. I couldn’t help it. I began to laugh. And as I laughed, I watched my daughter’s face change from trepidation to relief to laughter, as she joined me in laughing and cleaning up the mess. That's when I had a parental learning experience. Sometimes it's easier to clean a floor than rebuild a crushed spirit.

Pass the Puppy Chow.