Spring break. School's out and Nobody's home. Nobody's visiting. Nobody thought I would be glad to see him. Nobody is taking advantage of my hospitality and generosity and patience.
I clean up for Nobody, going through the house picking up random shoes, putting them in the basket by the door. Nobody throws them all out again. I neatly fold and stack the clean laundry, and Nobody musses up my tidy piles. I yell, "Who left out the milk? It'll go sour." Nobody responds. Nobody removes the milk from the kitchen table and puts it back in the refrigerator.
Nobody turns on the TV and leaves the room. Nobody turns on the stereo and leaves the room. Nobody turns on the computer and leaves the room.
When I find the front door wide open, letting in flies and cats and letting out quality air, I call, "Who was the last one through the front door? Come close it!"
Nobody comes and Nobody goes, almost undetected except for the mess. Chip and cereal bags left open, inviting stale to settle in -- Nobody did it. A bouncy ball abandoned on the third step from the top, threatening to send me careening all the way to the bottom -- Nobody did it.
Nobody suddenly showed up about the time that my oldest child turned 2 and has been hanging around my family ever since. Serious issues -- Vienna sausages shoved under sofa cushions, homework papers passed through the shredder, mysteriously missing Girl Scout Samoas, and unflushed toilets -- have sat heavily on the shoulders of Nobody. There are times when I think I'm all alone in my efforts to live a streamlined, simplified, orderly existence. Nobody cares.
Everybody stands around with a sheepish expression, hands in pockets. Anybody can see we have a problem. Nobody takes the blame. Nobody admits fault. Nobody takes ownership and responsibility. Somebody should. Despite this conflagration of pronouns, my children are unswerving in their protestations of innocence.
Spring break brings chaos like Nobody. While I wish Nobody to leave, I keep waiting for Someone to enter the scene and demonstrate that all these years of lecturing have not been wasted seed. I keep believing that one of these days I won't even have to point out that the toilet paper spun off the roll and pooled on the bathroom floor. Someone, without me even asking or telling, will do the right thing and spin it back onto the cardboard tube.
I cling to that hope as fiercely as Nobody hangs up wet towels.
(Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. She lives in Thomson. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.ifmama.com.)