“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.” ~Abigail Van Buren
As a I glance around my kitchen on this Monday morning there are three empty cups, a hairbrush and several pens sitting haphazardly on the island. A bag of cereal and an empty carton of milk lay abandoned on the kitchen table; a heap of dishes rest in one side of the sink and a plate from last night’s dinner, four empty cups, a dirty bowl, and four more empty cups lounge by the other side. There are also some leftover groceries on the counter from my trip to BJ’s the other day that haven’t found their way into the pantry yet, and a half a watermelon that apparently lost its way to the fridge. Someone’s sock and sunglasses are sitting on the fireplace mantle, and there is a cereal bowl and an empty protein shake on the side table in the living room. This is all in my line of sight as I sit at my computer typing. Oh wait! I also see a Kindle and a pile of books on the couch table that I swear I’ve been asking someone to put away since last Sunday.
Why is all this miscellaneous crap lying around my kitchen? Because the butler and the maid took the night off last night. Yup, the two were sick of cleaning up after the kids all week and weekend, they were tired, fed up, and a little cranky. So the former decided to park herself in one corner of the sectional snuggled up with a blanket, her iPad and Kindle app, while the latter decided to spread out at the other end and watch “The Last Samurai” in between taking little catnaps every 15-30 minutes. Thus the mess within my 10 foot-visual-radius.
It’s really quite odd to sit among the rubble of this weekend’s cyclone of activity when there are five able bodied individuals living in this house. Just because two of them took the night off doesn’t mean the entire house can take the night off, too. Does it? In fact, it seems the maid and the butler are the only two who work at all! That would be fine if the maid and butler were being fairly compensated for their duties, but since I’m the maid and The Grinch is the butler I can assure you we are not! In fact, not only do we not get paid monetarily, but I think it would be safe to say that often times it seems we don’t even get paid with respect, or kind words, or other niceities our hard work deserves.
Yes people, my kids have been living with the motto “Avoid, Ignore, Disappear, ‘Forget,’ and Ye Shall Conquer” and my husband and I have had it!!! We’ve been here before. We’ve had checklists and chore charts and tack boards for keeping track of what they do and don’t do, but someone always manages to find a loophole (Thing 2 is a master at this), or find a way to beat the system. So we sit back and watch the shit pile up until Mom or Dad gets fed up and does takes care of it.
I know, I know, we are just feeding the monster by doing that, but let’s be honest, what parent hasn’t done the exact same thing. These kids are smart, and manipulative. They put on their biggest ear-to-ear smiles, agree to finish the task at hand in a kind, non-sarcastic complete sentence, and BAM we are cast under their spell.
What great kids, we think. “What responsible children we’ve raised,” we say patting ourselves on the back. And then we send them off with their friends, to a movie, buy that video game they’ve been begging for for months, or host the three teenager sleepover. Then we look around, and the state of our home jars us out of our kid-induced trance. You’ve got to me shitting me, they did it again, we internally berate ourselves. Those little shits have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!! And then we yell and scream, and sometimes even tell them how lazy and disrespectful they are among other things, and I know they are hearing the same thing Charlie Brown did when his teacher spoke (WAH, WAH, WAH, WAH), but we still do it because we think it will actually make a difference this time. And thus is the cycle at our house.
So I am putting out a call for help, a Mommy SOS, to anyone who has found themselves in a similar situation and has persevered. We need help! So if you have any solutions we would love to hear them. And if you don’t, we’d love to hear your stories, too.