Kids are funny. I don’t mean “ha ha” funny. I mean, “It’s a good thing my love for you prevents me from stringing you up by your toes” funny.
Have you ever noticed that when it’s time for dinner, the imperative, “Wash your hands,” means a soap-optional 30-second pass under the faucet, but after a post-bedtime bathroom trip, “Wash your hands,” means lingering long enough for a full manicure with a paraffin dip?
I don’t blame them. Hell, I’m an adult, and even I rush to do things that are exciting to me, and drag my feet when I’m not looking forward to something.
Today takes the cake though. So far, anyway, as I am certain more, shall we say, interesting, events shall occur in the rest of our parenting time with these two. Today, in advance of That Which Shall Not Be Named, Stacy decided that it was a good day for the kids to clean their rooms. Due to the fact that room-cleaning is fun for exactly no one, he offered an unnamed bonus for the first one done.
I must say, our standards for a clean room are fairly lax. We are not particularly tidy people, ourselves. Our children are vigorous players and imaginaters, and we support that. Seeing most of the floor is good. Clearing all trash is necessary.
La-La went to work right away, and kept on it. This is a big improvement for her. She used to get overwhelmed by the volume of the mess and mentally depart for LaLaLand. We have pared down the contents of her room since then, in spite of the fact that every doll shoe without a match, every broken puzzle piece, and every toy For Ages 12 Months and Under was her favorite. La-La finished cleaning her room in a little less than two hours.
Bubs flat does not like picking up his room. Ever. He often solicits help from an adult, which Stacy sometimes obliges. Even though his Mama insists that he can do the same, on his own, just fine, at her house, Bubs persists in resisting tidying his quarters solo here.
Aside from the First-Finish Bonus, a movie, with popcorn and candy was also on the line. In our house, children do not watch television on school nights. Right now, as we are in the two-week lull between summer and fall programming, there’s always a chance for half an hour of Paw Patrol or Wild Kratts here or there. Needless to say, a full-length movie is a powerful draw in this house.
Breaking for lunch without much progress, Bubs asked me if he had more time to clean. I said, yes, of course, because he had a couple more hours until movie time. I did not actually think he would need that long. Kids often have a way of proving you wrong.
After a total of seven hours; no movie, candy, or popcorn; a stern talking-to from me and a stern talking-to from Stacy; and a lot of crying and screaming (some from him and some from us), he finally finished cleaning his room — to minimum standard — just in time for dinner.
Maybe next time it’s room cleaning time he will remember this time, or maybe he won’t. Maybe it won’t be so long or so difficult, even if he doesn’t remember it. Maybe it will be worse. That’s the thing about other people: you never really know how they’re going to respond.
I think it’s easy for us to forget that from the day they arrive in this plane of existence, or perhaps, even before, each child is their own little person, with their own little mind; we can only encourage behavior, because, in the end, they will do what they will.
What was your least favorite chore as a kid?