Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jackson and the 5 Gallon Bucket of Oil

* Brace yourselves, this is a long one... *

It was a busy Friday morning - Joy School was at our house so I was running crazy trying to teach the letter Y, do crafts and cooking with 4 little ones. Joy School was just about over and the moms were about to arrive to pick up their kids, I was about to go to a presidency meeting next door, and Lizzie had a friend coming over - all set to occur at the same time.

Jackson walks in the door as I'm madly cleaning up our preschool mess and says, "ew, sticky" and holds his hands out for me to see. So I swept him up and started washing the "sticky" off his hands. I couldn't tell exactly what the sticky was until I smelled it. Oh no. Motor oil. I looked down at his feet to see if he'd stepped in it and oh boy, his feet looked just like his hands - covered in that stuff. I peeked out the back door and saw his new toy sword also covered in oil and several greasy footprints on the back patio. Instantly my heart sank. I knew exactly what had happened.

As soon as I had his hands, feet, and sword cleaned up (I didn't need that greasy sword making it's way through my house) I ran out the back door and around to Matt and Aimee's side yard. I came across the MOST HIDEOUS MESS OF ALL TIME. Jackson had used his sword to stir up and eventually dump an entire 5 gallon bucket of used motor oil all over their side yard and it was running down the driveway. Can I take just a moment to describe my horror? #1 This was NOT my house. #2 That oil was like a black river of grime - I'm telling you, it covered at least 12 square feet of Matt's recently poured cement on his side yard, and there was a 2 1/2 foot wide stream of it running down into the gutter. #3 How in the world was I going to clean this up?! #4 OIL STAINS LIKE NOTHING ELSE!

I RAN home to our house to call Jeremy for suggestions and support. He also had no idea where to even start! A family friend was next door doing some home improvements on Matt and Aimee's house and he came out to see what all the commotion was about. He saw the mess and was equally impressed with the oil spill. (Notice I used the word "impressed". He has 6 children of his own and knows all about these kinds of situations.) The first words out of his mouth were, "Kitty litter". Ah! Genius!

I couldn't stay away from the mess for fear of some other child stepping into it, but wait! The moms started knocking on the door to pick up their kids and one of the presidency ladies had also just pulled up.

I quickly ran next door to see Kari and ask for some kitty litter. It's probably the only time I'll say it but, I AM SO GLAD THEY HAVE A CAT! She graciously met me over by the mess with a huge brand new 25 pound box of kitty litter. We quickly started spreading it about and I sent her home to do the presidency meeting with the ladies that had just arrived.

In those moments alone my mind began to get the better of me. As I started spreading that entire box of kitty litter over the mess the questions would not stop coming! How was I ever going to get this all cleaned up? How angry would Matt be? Why did Jackson keep getting into everything?! How many hours would I be working on my hands and knees to get this oil off the ground? How long would it take to scrub the cement until it sparkled like new? I'm telling you, it was a downward spiral that was not good.

As I was just about to loose it and let the tears flow I heard the sound of people approaching. It was the sound of cheerful voices and cute flip flops coming up right behind me. It turned to look and it was almost as if in slow motion 3 of the loveliest ladies - the presidency ladies - were walking up the driveway to meet me.

I did not ask them to help. I didn't want them to help - it was such a disgusting mess! They didn't need to ruin their cute shoes and clothes and stay out there baking in the hot sun (This was also one of those freakishly hot days where it got up to 90 degrees in April!). They wouldn't take no for an answer. They jumped right in and started scooping and scrubbing as I stood there dumbfounded that they would do this for me. I think I may have been most baffled by their happy attitudes. They were cracking jokes and smiling and were so pleasant that my terrible cloud of spiraling bad thoughts were literally pushed out of my mind. I could not be upset any longer.

We exhausted the kitty litter, Palmolive, Tide, OxiClean, papertowels, one broom and one dust pan from the houses. They stayed there with me for 2 maybe 2 1/2 hours. Scrubbing and sweeping and scooping and cleaning and cleaning until we could do no more. Those ladies were heaven sent. I have no doubt that they were there to help me through this most awful ordeal and not for a presidency meeting that day. They really did save me. It could have been a nightmare, but it actually turned out to be such a pleasant experience (or as pleasant as it could be). We visited while we worked and retold past experiences of our children's silly adventures and messes. I felt a great spirit of friendship and love and I hope they did too.

And now I sit here tearing up over such an awful/wonderful experience. Tearing up not because of the mess anymore, but because of good friends. Wonderful women that would do anything for anyone. I am so grateful for you sisters. I truly could not express the deepest love and emotion that I felt for you on that day. I hope I can have the opportunity to give that same service to someone else someday.

So the story ends like this: We hosed down all the soap and bubbles as best we could. And all we could do was wait. While I was waiting another friend - one of the Joy School moms who saw my panicked face earlier - stopped by with more clean-up supplies. It was raining good friends I tell you! I went back an hour later and it looked pretty good. You couldn't tell there had been such a monstrous mess earlier that day. Best of all Matt was not upset. Why am I surprised by this? I don't know. He's such a good guy. He was more concerned that I was here to clean it up alone. But we all know I had my super special lady helpers to make the job easier.


Kristin said...

That's a wonderful, horrifying, and incredibly sweet post, Jennifer! I'm crying with you.

kelly said...

I suppose you were too upset and overwhelmed to grab the camera, right? That little Jackson, LOCK HIM UP! I am so sorry you had to experience that, and I'm glad. That's a bit how I felt about Tyler's dislocated shoulder and the $300 worth of sod I was going to have to lay, and then my angels came too. It's so nice to be able to experience the love of friends!

haley said...

Good friends are the best kind of rain!! I'm so glad you have great people around you. It does make all the difference. I'm glad things turned out okay.

Susie Demke said...

Oh my gosh. It's my life! I'm reading this and going- I know I know I know Oh yes uh huh..... I could feel your pain. My stomach was in knots. Poor poor dear.
Heaven sent Angels. That's what they were.

Unknown said...

Oh Jackson! I think it's quite appropriate that his middle name is Jeremy. He takes after his daddy. I wasn't alive when all the Jeremy stories happened but I do love hearing them over and over again. My favorite is the look on Jeremy's face when these stories are told over and over and over and over again. (That's something Jackson has to look forward to!). Although I think the oil spill might be worse than any of Jeremy's doings?!

Susie Demke said...

I know this is my second comment but Sheldon dumped a bag of frozen blueberries on my carpet and I was going to lose it but I was thinking- okay its MY carpet and it's NOT motor oil. Not so bad.

Maree said...

Oh Jennifer, the stories you will get to tell in the future! I'm so glad that Heaven rained Angels for you!