For each of us, there comes a moment when we cross that line from complete, euphoric innocence to jaded, wistful adulthood.  For The Caterpillar, that moment came a few weeks ago.

We'd been in the new house for only a couple of months and a friend came over to meet us for dinner.  I threw a load of laundry in the washing machine and the dishes in the dishwasher and absentmindedly hit the start button on both while we loaded up everyone in the car and went out for Cuban food.  Good food; good conversation.  It was a much needed respite from some sucky things that had happened that month.

When we arrived home, I walked in through the kitchen door and stepped in a puddle of water.  "Well that's not right," I muttered. The KingofHearts and his friend were still chatting while I tried to figure out whether an ice cube had dropped on the floor and melted while we were away or a cat had upended a glass of water.  They like to actualize all potential gravity, these cats, and some times we find this when we come home if someone was short-sighted enough to leave a cup on a surface.

I made my way a little further in and did not find the end of the puddle.  My brain went through a quick checklist of possibilities and crossed off the refrigerator, freezer, tsunami, flood plain, rain inside the house... by this time, I'd waded across the floor far enough to figure out the real problem: both the dishwasher and the washing machine had spewed out their magical cleaning water.  See, everything in the kitchen empties into the same drain and they had overflowed.  The washing machine particularly, as it empties into a utility sink and the sink fills up with a wash cycle, if it doesn't empty before the rinse cycle, the water just sloshes out over the sink's edge onto the kitchen floor.  

But that's not all...

because the genius who installed the floor in this new house decided to take a short cut and not put down any water barrier under the brand new pergo floorboards. So that two inches of water that had been standing on the floor the entire time we had been out, blissfully eating Ropa Vieja, was now leaking between the floor boards and through the floor, which as you may know, is attached to the basement ceiling... water that was now coming down through the ceiling tiles and onto the brand new carpet in the basement.

What I didn't know then that I know now was that the main drain that everything the kitchen empties into had developed, for reasons we have never come to understand, a giant, mother-of-all-clogs clog in it - completely impassable - and I had just started pretty much every water-making appliance we owned and walked out the door, leaving them un-monitored.  So I wasn't there to notice that the utility sink didn't empty after the wash cycle. Or that the dishwasher didn't empty after the clean cycle, or that the water I'd emptied out after rinsing dishes in the sink never drained, or that the utility sink that was now filled up and not ready to accept more water overflowed after the rinse cycle, or that the water standing on the kitchen floor was now raining down on all our belongings in the basement like a drip drip drop little April shower.

I yelled at the kids to "BRING TOWELS," to which one of them ran and brought me... a single tea towel. I yelled, probably too uncharitably, "NO! Both of you, bring me TOWELS," and then added as an afterthought since I knew what they were thinking as they hurried down the hallway, "ALL THE TOWELS WE OWN!" 

Then we all spent the next several hours on our hands and knees mopping up water that had no where else to go.  And when we'd used every single towel in the house, even the dirty ones, we used robes... and all the dirty laundry.  Every stitch of fabric that was available was sopping with mopped-up dishwater.  Then and only then, had we managed to mostly dry the floor, but all the sinks were still filled with standing water.

The floor is ruined by the way. Inexpensive Pergo doesn't stand up to water very well as it turns out.

The kids were great helping me. They brought their adorable faces along to soften the blow when I had to go next door and ask the neighbors to borrow any house fans they had.  They sponged up water and moved furniture and wiped off bean bag chairs and rocking horses like sailors swabbing the deck. Our home warranty covered at least part of the cost of bringing out a plumber (twice) and although this moment was the straw that broke the camel's back that month and I nearly had a nervous breakdown waiting to find out whether the clog was within the perimeter of the house and fixable with an industrial snake (COVERED by the home warranty) or outside the perimeter of the house and fixable by having someone to dig up the entire yard (NOT COVERED by the home warranty), this was one instance this year where God smiled upon us and the plumbers (it took three of them) eventually fixed it the easy way.

We finished cleaning up around midnight that night, exhausted from spending hours trying to plunge, snake, coax, and plead out whatever was causing the clog. Every time someone used the plunger on one drain, the other two drains would just barf more water out and onto the floor.  We finally gave up and just concentrated on drying off the floor and bailing most of the water out of all the sinks.  I tossed all the water-logged towels in a laundry basket, promising myself I'd wash them all tomorrow, while The KingofHearts researched online the process for making a claim against that brand new home warranty we were now quite happy we'd paid extra for. Then we both went to collapse in bed.

The next morning we all woke up - a bit late for obvious reasons - and while the KingofHearts jumped in the shower to get ready for work, I went into the kitchen to prepare lunches for the kids and get them ready for school. At some point I stumbled over the laundry basket of soaked towels and it dawned on me that The KoH would be getting out of the shower and we'd pulled all the towels from every room in the house the night before. It dawned on him too because at that exact moment, he'd stepped out of the shower and reached for a towel, finding none.   

About the time I was searching for a reasonable facsimile of a towel to bring him, he was tiptoeing through the hall and rummaging through the linen closet for something to use in place of a towel, leaving puddles of water dripping off his wet body the entire way. Finding none, he turned around to search elsewhere.

It was exactly this moment, that The Caterpillar had finally taken to heart the direction to GO AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH NOW THIS IS THE THIRD TIME I'VE ASKED YOU that I'd yelled only seconds before, and headed down the hall. So when I turned the corner to bring The KoH the one remaining dry sheet I'd found, the scene I encountered was the Caterpillar running down the hall, meeting up with The KoH's path and stopping short, jerking her head up to find a completely naked, dripping wet, grown man standing directly in front of her. 

She didn't quite know what to do and neither did The KoH, so they just stood there, regarding each other for a few seconds, like a couple of wild boars.  Then The Caterpillar put one foot behind the other and slowly, surely, backed out of the hallway without saying a word.

She returned from the hallway and went out to face the world again, older, wiser.... and sadder.