From time to time, I like to step away from my desk and run the vacuum cleaner over the floors as a break (sorry, ladies, I’m taken!).
During the course of many, many such excursions, I have sometimes heard the little tickticktick of a tiny Lego or action figure’s blaster sucked into the maw of the beast, and I’ve thought about what a horrible father I am: I felt no remorse in permanently cleaning the children’s toys in this fashion.
Now, I don’t go hunting to deprive my children of the prefabricated implements of their imagination. I can remember how it would have made me feel to know my parents did that. Well, I can imagine it; my sainted mother was not that diligent in housekeeping.
So I do look over their rooms in before I mechanically groom the pile of the carpeting, but I don’t take extraordinary measures when I hear what I know is a dispensable, soon-to-be-unmissed bit of plastic.
But today was a different story.
I was vacuuming the lower level, which is not a toy-rich haven of childhood delight. When they come down, they get out board games, though, and build little narratives with the Life cars and Scooby Doo Mystery Game ghost tokens. We make them pick up, and we straighten in addition to that. But today, as I hit that dark corner by the game shelves, I heard a TICKTICKTICK, and I remembered I meant to pick up that Scrabble tile.
You’d better believe I unseamed that vacuum bag from nave to chops to retrieve a Scrabble tile. Which, by the time I got to it, looked like a little lion with all the cat hair on it. I cleaned it up, of course, which means it is the cleanest Scrabble tile we own right now.
But now I have a greater secret to hide from the children: Not only does Daddy sometimes unrepentantly vacuum up their toys without retrieving them from the garbage, Daddy will gut the dirt sack to get his toys back.