Tit for Tat

Noah after watching Doctor Who on Saturday

I am not a taskmaster.  Sure, I talk about chores and what my kids should and should not do each day here and how we try to divvy things up.  But I’m also very cognizant of the fact that my kids need a firm hand, but not necessarily a nagging one.

I say this, of course, knowing that the nagging has to occur at least once in awhile.

Today was no different.  Normally I write these on Sunday nights to start the week, but I hit Saturday because it just seemed appropriate with what we’ve done today.  Understand, standing in my small laundry room in the corner of my upstairs hallway, was a Kilimanjaro of clothes.  A veritable Pangaea of panties and pantaloons, if you will.  We each have our duties.  I won’t spell out mine, I don’t mind parenting and doing what needs be done.  But the kids each have their own and this weekend I was less benevolent and more taskmaster.

My daughter, who is in the ensemble of the school play – and I won’t rail on the fact she’s a senior and doesn’t have a speaking role – and has rehearsal . . . all . . . the . . . time . . . it seems.  I ended the week with coming home to a voicemail from my daughter yelling at me for not picking up the kids.  I admit, I work in a communications business and didn’t communicate with her before she left – first thing in the morning, before the kids were even dressed – in the morning.  When I called she instantaneously started yelling and pointing fingers and telling me what I did wrong.

I made a couple mistakes this morning, not the least of which was not hearing her correctly, but yelling at your Dad?  I’d have had to be woken up by smelling salts if I’d tried that.

That was the message to her – don’t talk to me that way.  I may have made mistakes, and I owned up to those, but telling your father, on the way out the door, while he’s making breakfast, loading up backpacks, and wrangling the children who seem more like herding cats than kids, is a big mistake.  She could have told me she was off to join a cult where she’d be programmed and end up eventually the next Mrs. Cruise and I’d have probably nodded and said “mmm hmm.”  We gained a much-needed understanding.

Hannah, my dear baby bear, hadn’t done her chores.  We didn’t eat Saturday until she had.  It’s the way of things.  I can’t get to the counters to make dinner, we’re not having dinner.

The boys. Ahh, the boys.  Sam is like Hannah.  No nagging, no chores accomplished.  Noah, he just wants direction.  Lots and lots and lots and lots of direction.  Their job is the laundry room.  Fold and put away the clothes.  That, my friends, they’ve avoided for more than a week, thus the Mt. Shasta of shorts in there.  I left them because, frankly, I knew a day would come when they couldn’t find something and I could calmly say “if you’d actually put away the clothes, you’d know exactly where that is!”  Today was that day.

Two things were on those boys’ minds: first, they’ve been dying for a set of bookshelves and I’ve waited until there was reason to install them.  Today was it.  Do all the laundry, including putting mine away, you get your shelves.  Also, Doctor Who, a staple of our Saturday routine, was on at 6pm PT.  No Dockers in the closet, no Doctor on the TV.

To my astonishment, they went right to it.  Sure, I broke up a couple fights, but they did it.  The girls’ clothes in their rooms, mine put away.  Theirs put away.  I built the bookshelf and put it in the corner.  Before the afternoon’s end, Noah had cleaned even more and put his books on the shelf.

We watched the episode: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, which had enough of an Indiana Jones moment that Noah ran upstairs and found a Nerf rifle and a fedora enough to look like Riddell, the adventurer on the episode.  I was quite impressed.

Impressed . . . but not overly so.  I came to the top of the stairs tonight and found a small peak of petite clothes.  All the stuff on the floor of the boys’ room . . . now in the dirty clothes.  I crossed to grab clothes for the morning and found underwear, socks and dress shirts crammed into drawers meant for t-shirts and jeans.  And vice-versa.

Well . . .at least they’re not on the floor.

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