On occasion, one of our three boys mindlessly decides to say, “I’m bored,” or, “I have nothing to do.” For several years now, our prescribed response has been, “You can sweep out the garage, if you’d like.” After the requisite eye roll from the child, either my husband or I usually suggest a small list of other mundane chores that our child can do if he is truly bored. It never fails that the boy then finds something else to do—which is why our garage floor is almost always so very dirty.

Once a year, I put on a dust mask and take on the task of cleaning the garage, in the weeks leading up to Passover. It started when our oldest child was a toddler and our car was always loaded up with snacks—Kix, Cheerios, pretzels, and the like. After all, crumbs in the car meant crumbs in the garage. And we needed to get rid of all of our chametz.

As I swept up the garage in those early years, the piles were a mix of sand and salt from the treated winter roads and crumbly brown leaves and pine needles—and lots of pieces of cereals and snacks. But after several years, as our kids grew older and stopped eating in the car apart from road trips, those piles did not appear to contain any chametz at all. Just sand and salt and yard waste that had been tracked in.

So why, every year, do I still sweep out the garage in the run-up to Passover? Because it has become part of the ritual of preparing for the holiday—a full spring cleaning. And when else would I get rid of all that sand and salt and tree debris, anyway?

Today was the day to do my annual garage sweep, because the sun was shining and the temperature was 55 degrees. Passover is fast approaching, and tomorrow it may snow. But I was feeling a bit run down from a rough week. As I nearly talked myself out of heading to the garage, my oldest son, age 13, galloped down the stairs. “Mom, I finished my homework and I don’t know what to do.” I blurted out, “Wanna help me clean the garage?” He laughed. “I’m serious,” I replied.

To my surprise, my boy soon had his sneakers on and was heading toward the garage. I grabbed a dust mask for each of us and we were both out the door. I’ve never enjoyed cleaning the garage as much as I did today. With his help, the garage hasn’t looked this organized and spotless since last year at this time. And now I have an even better reason to continue with my Passover garage-cleaning ritual: quality time with my teenage son.

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