"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Detritus on the Floor

Detritus is an interesting word. First, I just found out that it's spelled "detritus" with a second T, not "detrius" without a second T. And second, some people claim to pronounce it with a long "e" as in "dee" and a long "i" as in "try." Others leave the vowels short and even leave out the second T in the pronunciation. Plus, it seems to be mostly used in biology or medical jargon, as in "the detritus of the dead bird in the garden is fertilizing the plants."

And because I'm a nerd, I looked it up some more and found out Detritus is also a video game much like Asteroids, a troll in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, and some kind of electro-aggro-industrial band. Now you know.

But for my purposes here, I'm referring to the physical debris that erodes away from our lives consistently, all day long. More specifically, the crumbs of food and bits of trash that end up on the floor of my house is driving me batty.
This is what it feels like. In my house.

We have hardwood floors in our house. Before we moved in, we had the floor completely refinished, and it's held up beautifully. We've since refurbished the kitchen and bathrooms and included new tile floors in each room. I love the look of my floors. But hardwood and tile flooring can cause a unique set of problems in a home. Small things too easily roll under the couch. You can't comfortably take a Sunday afternoon nap on the floor. And the floors can get cold. Even in the middle of summer, I sometimes find myself needing slippers. Worst of all, clean-up is a never-ending story.

( I couldn't resist. Enjoy the cheesy goodness of Limahl. Plus, notice how the drummer figured out you don't need drumsticks to play those hexagonal toy synthesizer drums years before Rock Band was ever a thing.)

It's kind of revolting to think about the particles of dirt and dust and skin and food and insects and mites that live long, full lives within carpeted flooring. Every once in a while, a vacuum collects the bigger pieces, but that's all okay because, really, you hardly notice the detritus. On a hardwood floor, as I'm learning, all you notice is the detritus. Dust bunnies float around with the currents created by the ceiling fans. Crusts of bread are kicked around until they're either reduced to minuscule crumbs or just scooted under the furniture. Drops of milk from a sippy cup accumulate dirt until they become black, sticky masses.
Did you know there are no pictures of messy or dusty
hardwood floors on the entire internet?

I've lived in this house for the better part of a decade, and I've lived with hardwood floors before that. So why now? What about the grit on the floor is getting to me now when it didn't bother me before? The answer is simple. It begins with an X and ends with The Boy.

It's summer, so I spend most of my time at home. And it's summer, so I spend most of my time barefoot. It's summer and the boy is nearly 20-months-old and he doesn't care if his pants are full of detritus, so what does he care what's on the floor?

The worst of it naturally builds up around the high chair. Xander's eating habits go something like this: Yum-yum, nibble-nibble, squish-squish, chew, swallow, throw. He knows how to say "Done." He knows how to say "Down." They're pretty much the same word to him. But does he tell us he's finished eating and would like to get out of his high chair now, please and thank you? No. He drops his sippy cup, upends his plate, throws to the floor any food he can grasp, and brushes the crumbs off of his tray with a quick sweep of his hands. This inevitably leaves more food on the floor than ended up in his tummy, thus creating the detritus that I must step through to get to the kitchen from the dining room.

And, somehow, the rest of the house is affected. The living room rug gets Cheerios ground into it. The bathroom hallway has sticky spots. Various corners of our home boast fruit snacks to feed the spiders. This is all in addition to the variety of cars and crayons and balls and bits of toilet paper we all must make a path through.
The boy has taken to unrolling the TP from the bathroom and galavanting around
like he's doing a rythmic gymnastics routine through the house. Cute, right?
Yep, that's him eating the toilet paper.

Really, the worst is what I feel on the soles of my feet. If we had carpet, I wouldn't notice when a piece of hardened cheese or even a mushed apple stuck to my heel. I would just swipe my foot along the rug if I noticed anything at all and, poof, the detritus would be gone, hidden at least until the next pass of the vacuum.

We didn't used to have to, but we sweep every day now. Usually more than once. And the mopping, which is more of a wet-wipe spot-cleaning than anything else. Yet the detritus is unconstrained. We try to control Xander's movements during meals, but the banana still ends up under the table, the Cheerios still end up everywhere. Only to be carried to the far reaches of the domicile, all adding up to become the detritus of our lives.

23 comments:

  1. Imagine that times 5. Oh my God! When my daughters were home, after I got home form work, all I did was clean, clean, clean. Did homework with them, too.

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    1. I suppose that's the silver lining: there's only one of him. Good on you, though, shelly.

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  2. We thought we were done with all of that, after years and years of foster kids. Finally got to the point where it was just us and the dogs. Of course we still end up with tumbleweeds of dog hair rolling around on the hardwood, but we can live with that and suck them up with the vacuum.

    Now it looks like we might end up with our two grandbabies to raise.

    **sigh** Have to go back to wearing shoes in the house again...

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    1. Is that the answer? Just wear shoes all the time? But I so like my feet unencumbered, especially in the summer.

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    2. Then you are gonna and up with cereal and lego's stuck to your feet.

      A good pair of comfy sandals might be a good compromise.

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    3. I could get a pair of house sandals. Not to go outside...hmmm. Not a bad idea, rev.

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  3. Oh yeah.... I always wrote and pronounced it "detrius". I don't know why.

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    1. Me, too. I wonder why that is.

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    2. I have absolutely no idea.

      But now pronouncing it correctly feels wrong.

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  4. Very funny honey.

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    1. You found some very funny honey? Is it funny sounding or funny tasting?

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  5. I recall the word "Detritus" figuring prominently somewhere in something I read, the odd word sticking out of the sentence like a sore thumb. Now I'm wracking my brain trying to remember where.

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    1. You will let me know when you remember, won't you?

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    2. Ah, I did remember! It was an article about the band They Might Be Giants that I read a few years ago. In the middle of the article is the phrase "...which featured plenty of re-worked versions of Dial-a-Song detritus.", which got lodged in my brain, mostly, I think, due to the fact that I had no idea what "detritus" meant until I read this fine post of yours.

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    3. Okay, Brian, I went to that website you linked and spent the better part of the weekend reading the "Your Band Sucks" columns. Genius! Thanks for that. :0

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  6. Oh I remember this stage. My OCD was in panic mode for years.

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    1. dbs, see, I don't remember feeling this way with my two daughters. I'm probably developing my OCD with my age.

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  7. Hardwood floors are gorgeous and a PITA. You have my sympathies, sir, for I know your pain. Take heart in knowing that in the very near future you can teach your boy the groovy game of, "Let's See Who Can Clean Up Fastest!" :-)
    Some Dark Romantic

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    1. Mina, I actually got him to pick up part of his grilled cheese he threw at the end of lunchtime. Not all of what he threw, but it's a start, right?

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  8. I could send you a picture of my hardwood floor; it isn't pretty like any of those you find on the internet. It is worn and scratched and has slimy drip spots from the dog who gulps his water and then dribbles it as he walks away. And unfortunately, he will never grow up and learn to wipe his mouth. Ah well ...

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    1. mshatch, I certainly wouldn't want a dog on any pretty hardwood floors. Don't the claws rip up the floors? Yikes!

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  9. I feel your pain. I have hardwood floors and a cat. All I see is the cat hair, and I am constantly getting kibble between my toes.

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    1. Missed Periods, I had a cat for a time with hardwood floors. I now remember the hair mess. Thanks for that.

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