Saturday, January 8, 2011

Somewhere over the rainbow

Last week we carefully and patiently made a rainbow jello. It took several days because we let each color set before adding the next but it was something E had heard about somewhere, and really wanted to do, and she's never been so happy about dessert in her life.

A forkful of rainbow jiggles.

Anything for the promise of a bowl of rainbow jello.

One night she didn't finish her rainbow jello and unbeknownst to us, set her bowl down on a chair instead of a table and walked away. Her brother found it and carried it into the family room, crawling, leaving little rainbow gems across the carpet. I'm going to guess he played with the jello but found it hard to maneuver. I'm sure what he was after was the bowl, anyway, because he loves teething on the rim.

We finally had three kids asleep and I came downstairs and I walked towards the couch in the family room. First I saw the bright pink blob on the carpet. I moved the afghan that had fallen to the floor out of the way and saw something approaching me like a comet breaking through the atmosphere. I felt the cold sticky at my hairline as I realized I knew what the source of that carpet stain was as I reached up to find rainbow jello in my hair. I pulled my fingers away, unwittingly flinging the prettiest little stain agents all over the room. But oh, for that moment, how they twinkled so charmingly in the lamplight.

We moved into this house when I was pregnant with E so we had some time to think about what family rituals we'd institutionalize. One is that we measure their heights on the inner door frame of the master bedroom walk-in closet, and we do it there because I had the foresight to declare that if we never painted the inner door frame of an upstairs closet, I wouldn't mind its faded sheen or gradual dinginess for the sake of capturing vertically the growth of this family.

The family room carpet, though, becomes more and more disgusting and with each ground-in cookie crumb, dried playdoh adherence, spit-up or poop-out or influenzic vomit hurl; with each dropped marker or spilled milk or oh, I don't know, travelling jello, I just think with more and more conviction: Dare me, universe. Dare me to pull up this ugly carpet and install a moppable hardwood. I even have a plan for how it will look.

I relayed the story of the rainbow jello to a woman I work with, a veteran mother who has survived so far as to see her children to college and out of her house (and off of her carpets). She suggested I embrace the pink stain on the carpet. In the category of Life Imitates Art / Art Imitates Life, she laughingly suggested I circle the stain in marker, date it, and credit the appropriate children.

There's still half a pan of rainbow jello in the fridge and who really needs hash marks on a door frame? Pin It