It is my custom to get up when one of the children wakes me. I usually greet the early riser, start the coffee, and begin getting breakfast ready.
Sometime after that, I make my way to the shower to get myself ready for the day.
Inevitably, a toddler needs to be zipped or buttoned and sees no reason why I should object to doing it while rinsing my hair. Next comes a preschooler wanting to know what e-n-v-i-r-o-n-m-e-n-t spells and will I draw a picture of an elephant for her, “Here is a purple crayon.”
On and on it goes until I ask kindly, “Will the 5 of you please leave the bathroom so I can dry off in private?”
One day, I don’t know what got into me, but I decided to lock the bathroom door and enjoy a shower with no interruptions, or so I thought.
No sooner had I stepped in than I heard a banging on the door and muffled shouts. “WHAT?” I said over the sound of the water and the space heater. “Ruh ruruh ruh ruuuuh,” the voice repeated. (Think: Charlie Brown’s teacher) I still couldn’t make out the words, but I recognized that it was my oldest daughter. “I can’t hear you. Tell me when I get out,” I said and continued exfoliating. Bang! Bang! Bang! “RUH RURUH RUH RUUUUH!” the voice said even louder than before. I decided to ignore the banging and thought that whatever it was could wait until I got out.
Then, I started thinking, “Oldest Daughter is the last one I would expect to bother me with something insignificant. It must be something important, and that muffled shouting sounded a lot like, ‘The refrigerator has fallen over and the baby is trapped inside!‘”
Even though I had only started to wash my hair, I was sure by now that one of those mumbled words I heard was definitely “refrigerator”, and I was certain that Oldest Daughter would not be banging in such a manner unless it was an emergency.
By this time, I was frantically reaching for a towel, and I had noticed the banging had stopped.
“At least she’s gone back in there to try to help the best she can, ” I consoled myself as I rushed out of the bathroom soaking wet. I ran into the kitchen. “What happened? Is everything OK? Where is she?” I panted.
“Huh?” they said eloquently, in unison.
All the children were quietly sitting around the table eating their breakfasts looking at me in genuine confusion. The refrigerator was in its upright position.
“What was all that banging about? I thought there was an emergency.” By this time there was a puddle of suds around my feet.
“Oh,” said Oldest Daughter, “I wanted to know if I could start a worm farm.”
Oh. No. She. Di’int.
My eyelids squinted half shut and through clenched teeth, in monotone, I asked, “Right now?”
I no longer lock the bathroom door.