Monday, January 2, 2012

Nothing like the real thing...

If there's one thing that I learned this week, it's the value of doing things the right way...you know, the old fashioned way.  In this era of shortcuts and any attempt to make life easier, it's easy to forget that there's still same value to the way it used to be done. 

Case in point, my kitchen floor.  Friday afternoon while Jacob was napping and Craig was working, I did some housecleaning.  I vacuumed the kitchen floor and brought out the Swiffer Wet Jet to clean up the non-vacuumable messes.  Our kitchen floor is a light gray linoleum that's made to look sort of like stone.  There's a definite texture to it, with small nooks and crannies, and each tile is made to look different.  Over the 20 or so months that we've lived here, I'm ashamed to say I've never gotten on hands and knees to scrub it.  In the five years we lived in our other house, I probably only did it a handful of times there--more often once Jacob was crawling than early on in our time there.  However, that floor got visibly dirty more often because it was where we entered the house.  Salt, mud, and the design of the tiles all made it much easier to see the dirt.  Well, here the kitchen is only used as a kitchen, not a pass-through, and the Swiffer Wet Jet seemed to be doing the job.  The pad was dirty every time I cleaned and the visible spills were cleaned up.  I noticed in some spots the nooks and crannies were a little darker than others, but no matter what I did with the Swiffer, the spots didn't seem to change...and I never got around to trying anything else.  Well, Friday when I was cleaning up a stubborn mark on the floor, I used a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and oops...the haze on the floor and the dark spots cleaned right off.  Crap.  Turns out the floor was filthy and every single one of those dark areas cleaned up.  Mom FAIL right there.  So, I put away the Wet Jet, filled a bucket with water and Mr. Clean, and started scrubbing the floor with a good, old-fashioned scrub brush.  I'd scrub the dirt up, use a sponge to soak up the dirty water, and do one last rubdown with a towel to speed drying.  It took a while, but man, was it worth it.  The floor now looks more white than gray, and the dark spots are gone.  And now I know.  I either need to find a new day-to-day cleaning method, or I need to commit to scrubbing it more often.  And it apparently can't be a modern shortcut, because that just didn't cut it.

Same goes for quality time with Jacob.  In this age of countless toys and ever-present technology, nothing really gets the job done quite like sitting down and spending good, quality time with him.  He's a great solo player, and it's easy to just let him go to it.  Interestingly, electronic toys have never really grasped his attention.  It took a long time before he really noticed the TV, and even now that he loves movies, he never really sits and focuses on them for long.  Many of the toys he got for his first birthday and Christmas involved batteries, and only a couple of them were ever really big hits with him.  In fact, I just took most of them down to the basement to make room for his new toys, and I had to take batteries out of most of them.  I think I could count on one hand the toys he plays with now that involve any meaningful battery use.  The toys he loves most are his hockey guys, baseball guys, and most recently his new Batcave and Daddy's old Legos.  Good, old-fashioned action figures and imagination all around.  While it warms my heart to see that, it's still pretty apparent that Jacob thrives off one-on-one attention.  Nothing beats it.  The Play-Doh and coloring book time we spent last week brought out a great side of him, and over the weekend he and Craig had great times in the basement playing with Craig's Legos.  Jacob was such a good boy for all of it.  It might also explain why he's such a good boy when we visit my parents--because with at least three adults around, there's always someone to keep him company.  So while technology and an everlasting supply of toys may help keep him occupied, nothing replaces one-on-one time. 

I'm definitely grateful for modern conveniences and all (hello, I'm blogging for goodness sakes!), and there are plenty of instances where older isn't better.  Cars beat horses and washing machines beat a rock.  But some things just can't be replaced.  Sometimes when things just aren't working like they should, it's probably a good idea to take a step back, think about how it may have been done way back when, and see if any old school methods might work.  I used to bemoan the arrival of the video scoreboard to sporting events, because it seemed like they always lulled the audience into a stupor that they only emerged from when the scoreboard told them to "Make Noise!"  Gone were the days when music or a good PA announcer could pump up the crowd better than anything.  I think many things in life are much the same--we're so tuned into the easy way that it's hard to see past to what might be a better way.  Maybe this is a flawed concept as I can't think of another prime example right now, but it just struck me that sometimes the better way might be easier than it seems.

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