I’m not sure this is something I’d want my kids to know about when they’re all grown up

January 27, 2010

I must be desperate or crazy – or both.

One of the nice things about our new home is its balconies. We have four – one at the top of the steps, one attached to the study, one attached to the master bedroom, one attached to the dining room and one attached to the kitchen. Ok, that’s five. Two of them are deep, squar-ish, and covered with a sloping tiled roof. The others are small, and largely or entirely uncovered. The one attached to the kitchen is enclosed by a metal grill, which makes it safe to keep the washing machine there and hang clothes there, though everything is exposed to the elements. The one attached to the study can actually be accessed directly from the ground floor, which makes it a slightly public balcony, though it is hidden from view from the road. The other three balconies are very visible from the road, but they are nice for sitting on with a cup of tea. Not, of course, that we’ve ever done that yet; or ever did in our old home which also had a couple of balconies. As a matter of fact, we don’t even have chairs and tables to put on the balcony, yet.

In addition to the five balconies, we have terrace at three levels. Technically, the terrace is shared with the tenants on the ground floor (and I suppose that, equally theoretically, their garden is shared with us), but I’ve never seen them use it.

And of course, we have a large garage, which should do for two cars but for all the junk lying in it; and a separate side parking area for my car.

So basically, we have a lot of open space in this place – a lot more than we’re used to. Which is great, except when it comes to cleaning it.

We haven’t properly cleaned the whole house more than once or twice since we moved in, so obviously, we haven’t cleaned the outdoors areas even once. I decided to tackle the many areas one-at-a-time over the weekends. By the time I get done with all of them, it’ll be time to go back to the top and start again. It’s as good a way to spend the weekend as any…. Well, almost.

So on Sunday I decided to tackle the balcony attached to the dining room. Since it is larger than the others and covered too, and since it is centrally located and cannot be access from anywhere other than the dining room, it has unfortunately been elected as the best place to hang clothes to dry. Unfortunate, because I’d much rather not have to see our clothes drying every time I pass by – about 200 times a day – but it seemed to be the only practical option. The other balconies are either too far away from the laundry area, or too small, or too public, or too exposed to the elements. So, since we had to hang our clean clothes there to dry, it seemed logical to get that balcony cleaned up as quickly as possible.

Now, if I have to get my hands dirty cleaning up our new place, why should I have to do this alone? Especially when I have another two pairs of hands that are only too eager to get themselves dirty? So I tore a large rag into two small rags and one large rag, handed the smaller bits to the twins, equipped us with a mug of water with some detergent in it, and we all got busy. I cleaned the upper surfaces, while the girls worked on the lower surfaces. We did the glass doors, the ornamental railing, and the floor. By the end of an hour or so, much of the dust that had formerly been in the balcony had been transferred onto parts of the girls. I’m not sure whose idea it was – most likely, not mine – but somebody decided that the muddy water in the mug and the muddy rags in our hands would be ideal for mopping the dusty floor with. Given that large quantities of water had already been spilled on the floor, though, this probably did no more harm than had already been done.

Like I’ve said before, when it comes to my own kids, I have nothing against child labour. But… just that weekend I’d heard of two small kids who’d been hit by something allergenic and had to be taken to the hospital in a hurry and put on a nebulizer. Neither of these kids had any known history of asthma, so probably it was something in the air. And dust is the last thing you want to expose people to if they’ve already got breathing problems. Why, exactly, was I making my kids practically roll around in the stuff?

The good part of all this was that I got some very funny looks from people passing by on the street below. Hopefully, some of them were domestic help, and some of them were people who know or employ domestic help. If they have no pity for me, they might at least take pity on the two little girls scrubbing away so Cinderella-like and come and ease our pain. Till that happens, there are plenty of equally public spaces that I can coax the kids into spend the next several weekends scrubbing.

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