It started like any other day.
A teen from our church came over to take care of my girls while I worked with a coaching client.
Around noon, I returned upstairs and made lunch. The girls and I ate together, as we always do.
Allie finished eating before Grace and I, also normal. I extricated Allie from her high chair and let her run around the dining room and kitchen while Grace and I finished eating. This is my every day.
Allie grabbed the hoses running from our turtle’s tank to the canister filter underneath and shook them and sang her own crazy song, also not out of the ordinary.
And then something unexpected happened.
The inch-wide hose that carries gallons of water and turtle poop back and forth from the 75-gallon tank had been attached to the filter by a large plastic nut. It had been attached, right up until it popped right off in Allie’s hand, and a geyser of turtle poop and water erupted eight inches above the filter.
I’m not even kidding. It was at least eight inches high.
I gasped and froze. Grace squealed, Oh, no! MOMMEEEE! and Allie laughed and clapped her hands.
Such is my second-born child.
I remained completely unable to move for an hour, watching the water shoot skyward.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t an hour. It felt like a long time. 5 seconds? 10? 30? It was long enough for a whole lot of water to gushing onto the floor of my dining room.
Finally, I stood up from the table and turned the turtle’s power strip off, expecting the geyser to slow and stop.
Smaller now, but still gushing two or three inches above the filter, the geyser spewed water up and then down into the broken plastic tub that holds the filter. Time ticked by as the water siphoned itself out of the turtle’s tank and down through the hose into the tub.
I took a deep breath and looked at the mess that was now spilling over the crack in the tub and across the dining room floor.
As I surveyed and strategized, Allie plunged her hands into the tub of turtle water and turtle poop, wear a Cheshire cat grin.
“No Allie! No! Yucky! Yucky, Allie!” I pulled her hands out of the water; she laughed and tried to push them back down into the tub.
Holding her away with my elbow, I tried to pull the two sections of the broken tub together so that the water would stop surging out of the tub and onto the floor.
Once the water had slowed from a tsunami to a river, I tried to stop the geyser. Still holding Allie away, I took the hose from her hand and held it down against the filter nut.
At this point, I was holding the broken tub together with my left hand and holding the hose down with my right hand and holding the baby with my right elbow.
I was stuck. Even the smallest movement would mean that water would again be rushing out of somewhere – either out of the filter or onto the floor or both.
“Gracie? Gracie honey? Can you help me? Go over there and get the step stool and bring it to me.”
Um, okay. Where is it? I don’t see it! I DON’T SEE THE STOOL, MOMMY! I DON’T SEE IT! I CAN’T FIND THE STOOL! She is not good in an emergency.
“Walk into the kitchen.” The kitchen was less than six feet away. “Okay, turn toward the refrigerator. Do you see the stool now?”
I found it! I’m coming, Momma. She carried the step stool over to me.
“Now climb up and look for the great big roll of gray tape on top of the turtle tank.” I had noticed a roll of duct tape there just the day before, and I hoped it was still in the same spot.
I can’t find it! There’s no tape up here! Momma! She started squealing again.
“Look over here, Gracie. No, on this side. Do you see a big roll of gray tape? It’s as big as your head.”
She found the tape and handed it to me. I grabbed it between my knees and pried a piece off with my thumb, still holding the tub with my fingers. After peeling off a piece of tape long enough to hold the two sides of the tub together, I stuck it on and hoped for the best.
“Gracie? Can you help me with one more thing, honey?”
She groaned, over her panic. Now what?
“Can you keep your sister back, away from the poopy water?”
She was happy to oblige, grabbing Allie by the back of her t-shirt and holding on tight as Allie pulled and tugged like a puppy on a leash.
Now that I had one hand and arm free, I pushed the hose down onto the filter and tightened the nut to hold it in place.
Turning my attention back to the broken tub, I tore five or six pieces of duct tape. Starting at the bottom of the crack, I taped and taped and taped in a feeble attempt to hold back the flood from my dining room floor and the two small people sitting on it.
I succeeded in slowing the flood to a steady drip.
Looking around for something – anything – to catch the water still almost flowing out of the tub, I spied the cats’ water fountain.
Feeling guilty for allowing turtle poop to drip into the cats’ water but not knowing what else to do, I pulled the filter out of the tub, hoping that the water level in the tub would be fall below the crack. Holding the big filter and at least fifteen pounds of water, I looked for a place to put it.
The only spot I could reach was next to the turtle tank – where the cats’ place mat was sitting. (The cats’ food stains the floor, so we put a place mat under their bowl.)
“Grace, can you please move the cats’ place mat?”
“This, this place mat with the cats on it.”
She moved it, and I sat the filter down. The hard part was finally over. The only thing left to do was pour the water leaking out of the broken tub back into the turtle’s tank, clean the cat’s fountain and the baby’s hands, soak up the water all over the dining room, and sit down.
Oh, and laugh.
When it was finally over, I laughed.
Does this stuff happen to anyone else?
© 2012, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.