Cheryl Hughes: Driven by Distraction
There is nothing I love more than a quiet house all to myself. I enjoy sitting with my feet up, a book in front of me, a cup of hot tea on the table beside me, and nobody calling my name. I often wish for more times like these, but the truth is if I didn’t have the daily distractions, delivered in a near-constant dose, I would get nothing done. I think it’s because when I’m surrounded by others, who have their own agendas, I force myself to focus. I know it’s crazy, but I get more done on the days when craziness abounds.
Thanks to my granddaughter, Sabria, who has decided to tackle the terrible two’s a few months early, I am making phenomenal strides in all of my summer projects. Sabria and I were on our own on Friday—her mom had Drill—and she likes to be involved in whatever I’m doing, so I try to include her. She has discovered that she can push a chair around the kitchen and climb up for whatever she wants to reach.
I had several things in the works on Friday, and I wanted to try to get them done before I started my paper route at three. I put my glass bottles in a sink full of water and dish detergent while Sabria was in her high chair, eating a Pop Tart and watching Dora. I emptied a kiln of bottles before she finished her breakfast, so I started cleaning out the refrigerator. She came into the kitchen a few minutes later and dragged a chair up to the sink where she dipped out some suds with her hands and began washing her hair with it. I told her that might not be a good idea, so she turned her attention to the adjoining sink where she found a plastic cup. I heard and felt the water hit the floor behind me. I took the cup, moved the chair, put an old towel over the big splat of water on the floor, and turned my attention back to the refrigerator.
Sabria pushed the chair over to the counter by the phone, where she removed the Poison Control magnet and several coupons that I had stored in an old cigar box. I loaded my dishwasher with empty containers from the frig then swept the floor. Sabria was occupied with the pencil mug.
“I have to run in here to the bathroom for just a minute. You be a good girl, ok?” I said to her. She shook her head yes. I naively believed that meant she understood. In the two minutes that I was gone, she found three bananas on the counter. She peeled all three and took a bite from each one. I decided we would have banana nut muffins for dessert and got busy measuring flour and mashing bananas.
I heard Sabria spit and looked up from the mixer to find bits of pencil shavings on her chin. She had figured out how to disassemble the pencil sharpener. I lifted her from the chair and took her with me to the living room to find some wooden blocks. We brought them into the kitchen where I showed her how to stack them and knock them down.
I stepped into the utility room to get a bucket for bean hulls—a friend had given us some shelly beans and I wanted to get them shelled and put in the freezer. I returned to the kitchen to find Sabria in a chair at the refrigerator. She had over-filled a plastic cup with ice and water, and had an ice cube stuck to her left thumb. She was shaking her hand in an attempt to loose the cube, while yelling, “Um on! Um on!” (Sabria speak for “Come on!”) I ran water over her little hand, and the ice cube fell into the sink. She hugged me and climbed down from her chair.
We shelled beans together then mopped the floor together then ate lunch together. I got my bottles ready to put into the kiln and loaded them and Sabria into her red wagon. I pulled the cargo down to Garey’s shop where I put the bottles in the kiln while Sabria picked up rocks and followed our cat, Dougle, around. We headed back up to the house and got ready to go deliver papers.
By the end of the day, I felt like I’d run a marathon. And the thing is, if I had been by myself that day, I wouldn’t have accomplished half of what I did. I don’t know if I have to have a challenge or if I just need an audience. Whatever it is, I am thankful for the distraction that drives me.