Friday, January 19, 2007

The Happy House

After school today I heard the child mutter something under his breath about a happy house. I asked what he was talking about, and he explained that in a few hours, our house would be very happy, filled with excited little boys experiencing their first sleepover.

Our house has not been very happy lately, I suppose. It's been staged for real estate showings. No house enjoys that. Houses are not meant to be museums. Houses crave people, the more the merrier, and the laughter those people might bring.

Our house has been a showpiece for 6 months now, and the house has started to complain. It burns out its light bulbs with lightening speed, as if to punish the uptight homeowner. It has started showing never before seen wrinkles- the marble in front of the fireplace features an unsightly crack, just like the slate in the entry and the kitchen linoleum (referred to euphemistically as "vintage"). I can't help noticing smudges and fingerprints on the living room walls which I was sure I had cleaned to perfection. Even the marble window sills around those Anderson windows are showing signs of discoloration, aging and shifting.

Each time I hear the furnace kick on I say a silent prayer, because I know it's on its last legs. I didn't have it serviced this fall because I keep thinking I'll be out of here soon- why bother? Its humming sound is louder than it used to be- in fact, it's working itself up to a disconcerting roar.

Even the electrical system has started to act up. I can no longer fire up the Dyson HEPA vac without tripping the circuit breaker. Now I accept that if I want to vacuum, I have to turn off every light in the house first, shut down the computer and unplug the refrigerator.

The tree in front of the house sees to it that my roof looks unsightly at all times. An hour after the gutter cleaners left last month, that tree dropped 6 enormous warbled branches onto my roof, where they remain as testimony to my neglect.

But tonight the house is happy, as it literally shakes with the rhythm of the delirious boys. It resonates to their manic shouting, acting as a conspiring megaphone. The boys rush through the house, searching not for its flaws but for its magic. They marvel at its secret door hiding the card table cabinet. They climb up through the coat closet leading up to the attic with no floor, awestruck. They shriek for joy in the usually ignored basement as they sort through all the stored treasures. The house thrives tonight, doing what it was put on this earth to do.

I bet it would let me vacuum tonight, with the lights on.


Desiree said...

I can almost hear the laughter! Sounds like you'll have a lot of fun tonight! I love when my girls have sleep over parties although it can be stressful having so many children under one roof there is still a lot to be said for the laughter of youngsters! I find their youthfulness almost seems contagious! Have fun Betty!

Lisa said...


Sleepovers at my home are a common thing. I have to admit, mine is the messiest house out of all of my kids' friends houses...but perhaps that's why they choose to come here. I like to look at it as if there is an "ease" here that they may not have at their, um, neat and organized homes...or maybe my husband and I offer up the best Sunday morning pancakes and bacon!

Sounds like you're doing a fine job with your son. For him to notice that there is a certain "happiness" in your house is pretty amazing. I'm not sure how old he is, but if they notice that at any age, that is definitely saying something positive about how they're being raised!

Take good care,

Sideways Chica said...

Wonderful just doesn't get better than a happy house! Good luck on the vacuuming...and hold onto that laughter.

Ciao bella...

andrena said...

I hope you sell soon, but glad that your home has been filled with laughter!

Betty said...

Dear Desiree,

That laughter went on all night, as if to make up for 6 months without it!


Betty said...

Dear Lisa,

I am not the least bit surprised to hear that sleepovers are common at your house. I'm going to have to start using photos on my blog, because the "before" and "after" are remarkably different, but it fits, seeing as how I seem to be all about extremes.


Betty said...

Dear Teri,

Yes, I hope the effects of that prolonged dose of laughter can last quite a while. Or maybe I can just set up more such opportunities....the boys enjoyed going wild in the the finished basement, and now I'm hearing that my child doesn't want to move! And interestingly, I had to turn down a showing request because of the party. As you can imagine, I'm rethinking my decision to sell.


Betty said...

Dear Andrena,

Thanks for stopping by. I must say, the house is more appealing now after all that laughter!


Kacey said...

It does indeed sound like a "happy house". The laughter of children fills any home to bursting and any heart with joy. Your last line leaves me wondering what you must look like vacuuming without lights?????

Betty said...

Dear Kacey,

I wondered if anyone would realize what it's like to vacuum in the dark! Those Dysons have all the bells and whistles EXCEPT built-in headlights. So I've been facing a real problem. Tonight I'm once again vacuuming in the dark because I was just notified of a showing for tomorrow. Maybe I should invite those boys over....I swear, this house does not like to be prim and proper.


Mike Paetzold said...

Just wanted to stop by and leave a Gazoo for any Blogazoo surfers who stop by.

Priyamvada_K said...

"The boys rush through the house, searching not for its flaws but for its magic."

How wonderfully put! Sometimes we need to see things through a child's eyes, to truly appreciate something. I read somewhere that moonlight doesn't distinguish between a hut and a mansion - and God's grace is the same. Children have that divinity, that as we age gets rusty and covered up. But scratch through that surface, and its there :). Trust the little ones to bring it out in us. Such a heartwarming post!


Betty said...

Dear Priya,

You're so right. At times like this I realize how fortunate I am to be living with a child. No wonder we never want them to grow up- we need their constant reminders of what truly matters.


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