Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)
- TITLE: Automatic
By K. J. Cash
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It wasn’t the pitter patter of little feet, it was the rumbling of a thunderous herd of eight children that jarred me from my sleep. They were headed my way. At any moment they would pounce on me.
Simplification. The word is aloe to a blister. The blister is from the rub of life—a heated friction that so desperately needs soothing. I just need to be brilliant. That’s all. As I lay on my back staring at the ceiling, I imagined a giant Rube Goldberg machine with colorful blinking lights dancing down each descending arm awkwardly clutching a different grooming device in each metal claw and approaching me from all angles. The first would advance with a hairbrush, then a dozen curlers would twist into my hair and back out again, followed up with a misty curl defining gel which is far less stinky and stiff than hairspray. Inspirational music telling me to raise my hands would seem to joyously surge through me as deodorant swooped freshness across my underarm folds. Then the machine’s make up arms would spread their color and sunshine to my checks, my eyelids, and my lips. Finally a loaded toothbrush would drive itself into place and scrub my teeth. I can see myself smiling in the mirror and licking my teeth from one side to the other just like that old Pearl Drops commercial,
“mmm…What a feeling!” a twinkling sparkle would flash from the corner of my smile to the chime of a dainty bell followed up by coy little wink that says world you gotta love me. With that I’d be ready to head into the kitchen. Tripping a switch on the threshold of the kitchen floor, I would set breakfast in motion. The eggs would drop out of their shoots and roll nervously through tubes until amazingly they crack crisply into the skillet just as the blue flame, in one poof, licks in a lightening swirl around the edge of the pan and then adjusts itself down to the perfect cooking temperature. Now that’s cooking!
“What’s for breakfast, Ma?” The kids burst through my door and piled on top of me.
“Ohhh”, I moaned. There was an elbow in my gut.
“What are we having for breakfast?” they asked again. Oops, I forgot to make sure we had cereal and milk the night before.
“I don’t know,” I answered, “what did you make for me?”
“I can make you toast”, my four year old girl said as she smoothed the hair back from my face. In that moment, my heart told me what a good mother she would make some day.
“That would be just delicious. We can all have some toast. Then we’ll go to the store and get some stuff for brunch.”
“It’s a cross between breakfast and lunch. You guys know this. Why does this word always puzzle you all?” I asked.
“Because we’re like the Brady Brunch,” my nine-year-old wanna-be- comedian collapsed to the floor laughing. I wonder when he’ll figure out that comedians are supposed to make other people laugh.
“It’s the Brady Bunch, plus a couple”, I said. “Now go on out of my room so I can get changed.” I helped my giggle bucket boy up off the floor and shooed all the kids out the door. I plunked myself back down on the bed to catch my breath.
Even if I had a Rube Goldberg machine, I thought to myself, I would still have to spend some time loading it every night before bed so my eggs would be poised and ready and all my accessories would be in place. There seems to be no way around tending to physical needs, but how I long for it all to be automatic. I want to spend as little time as possible on the mundane so I have more to give to my four-year- old mother-in-training, my nine-year-old aspiring comedian, and the whole cast of characters that are my children.
It takes a little planning to simplify my day. Today, it could have saved me an extra shopping trip with eight kids in tow. I once experimented with making hot cereal in the crock-pot overnight, but even the big rolled oats became soggy mush. If I rig up a coffee pot with a programmable timer set to add in the water at the right time, I might have something—twenty extra minutes to change the world starting with the hearts in my home.
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