APB on Joanna
25th September 2014
It’s school holidays and my two bright, intelligent, curious little girls want to fill the days with fun, adventure, games, outings and activities.
After another term of teaching Kindergarten, I want to do quiet, sedentary, grown-up things like reading, drinking red wine, watching trashy TV and sleeping.
“What we gonna do today?” Asks Sophie – the energetic 3-year-old.
It’s 7am and she’s rearing to go. She climbs up the back of my chair while I eat my muesli. “We gonna go to the park?”
“No,” I spoon up more muesli and try to ignore her foot that’s perched right near my bowl. She can climb anything this kid.
“We gonna go to day care?”
“No.” Regretfully it’s not our day for day care.
“Well, what we gonna do?”
I decide to make a Dramatic Announcement. These are one of the few privileges that come with mothering*. I clear my throat, put my bowl in the sink and take a deep breath.
“Today girls,” I announce, “I am going to vacuum the lounge room so whatever toys are on the floor, you better pick them up. Otherwise I’m just going to suck them up.”
Livya, the conscientious 6-year-old, gives an audible gasp and scurries into the lounge room. I think she likes a Dramatic Announcement just as much as I do because she always responds – well – dramatically.
“With this? Mum, with this? You gonna suck up our toys with this?” Sophie is dragging the vacuum out from the corner of the kitchen.
[At this point, I feel the need to say that I vacuum a fair bit. Almost every day I switch that sucker on and get all the big bits from under the table. Sophie acting like she was excited by the vacuum announcement is not so much excited by the novelty of me vacuuming but the anticipation of toys being sucked up.]
Sophie inspects the barrel of the vacuum closely.
“Our toys will go in there,” she tells me gravely, pointing at the grey cloud of filth.
“SOPH’!” Livya bellows from the lounge room. “Come on, help me, before Mum vacuums up all our stuff.”
The Dramatic Announcement buys me exactly five minutes. Just as I’m sitting down to my cup of tea, Livya comes to tell me I can’t vacuum today.
I’m certainly not going to argue, but because she is six and I am having a cup of tea, she feels the need to tell me her reasoning.
“Joanna is missing,” she says.
“Joanna – you know the Lego girl that came with the pinkish, bluish jeep and the matching caravan?” She’s talking like I really know the girl, like I might of pulled up in my purplish, yellowish RV and gone camping with her in Legoland. And then, suddenly, it all comes back to me… she’s talking about Joanna. The Joanna. Joanna who hast lost she’s head.**
“Haven’t you found her head yet?” I ask, sipping my tea.
“Mum,” Livya is shaking her head, “her whole body is missing. All we have of her is her hair.”
“Oh well,” I shrug. “If I vacuum her up, I’ll hear it go clink, clink into the barrel and I’ll stop the vacuum and we can see if it’s Joanna, okay?”
Livya looks at me like I’ve suggested a heinous crime.
“I’ve got a better idea,” she suggests gently. “I’ll make some signs.”
I say okay, because – keep perspective here – it’s 7:15am. The whole day is stretching ahead of me like one long endless Lego conversation. I will agree to just about anything if it means I can sip my tea. Livya skips away and I can hear her rumbling about downstairs.
Sophie climbs my chair, peers over my shoulder and virtually talks into my tea cup.
“What kinda sound will Joanna make when you suck her up, Mum?”
It seems as though days pass, but in reality it’s probably about 90 minutes. I vacuum the lounge room without hearing any trace of Joanna. I wonder if we should send out an APB to Legoland. Maybe Joanna has run off with one of the Little People or Barbie might be holding her in a hostage situation, demanding full ownership of the jeep and caravan.
Finally I drag the vacuum downstairs, where I’m met with the following sign. It reads Joanna Missing By Olivia
This sign leads to a trail of signs.
Joanna Is Missing. Can you find her body and her legs too and her head too. Thank you Olivia and Sophie. Me and Sophie has been looking for her but we can’t find her anywhere. Can you find her please?
It really is like a Missing Person callout for Joanna.
Joanna is missing. We can’t find her anywhere. Can you? It is so important to me because Mum is vacuuming today so please start looking.
As you can imagine, we are all now keeping our eyes peeled for Joanna. I will endeavour to keep you updated on any trace of her whereabouts. After reading the signs Livya had posted (quite securely I might add), I did have a look under the lounge. I found one Nutri Grain. Things don’t look good for Joanna. Or my vacuuming.
* according to my friends who have teenage kids, the power of the Dramatic Announcement wanes over time, having little to no affect once your offspring are around 12 years of age.
** see my earlier post Joanna Hast Lost She’s Head