I got home tonight and I couldn’t help it. I lost it.
Yes, I know that’s the 3rd or 4th time this week, and some might argue that “this seems more your problem than your kids.'” But they’d be wrong.
You see, the one thing . . . the singular . . . solitary . . . thing I’d asked my middle daughter to do when I walked out the door this morning and got in the car to take her and her brothers to school was to do her chores.
My recap for you is this:
I dole out chores to each of the kids. It’s not like they’re parenting each other or anything, but I’m one guy. I cook, I get the groceries, I do the laundry, I vacuum, I end up cleaning all the bathrooms each week, I plan the meals, I get to drama club shows, I see Christmas plays, I go to events and such. I also have a job where I work 40 hours a week at minimum. The result is that the kids have to do something around the house or we’re in a world of hurt. So here’s the breakdown:
Abbi: pick up the kids and watch them. Homework has to be completed at the Extended Day Program as well as at home if there’s still some left when she gets them. Then she ensures the house doesn’t burn down or anything.
Hannah: Dishes/kitchen cleanup. That’s it. One job. It’s a daily job, to be sure, but it’s one job. I had it as a kid, so did both my brothers. Not rocket surgery.
Noah and Sam: fold and put away the laundry. That’s everybody’s, not just theirs. On top of that, dirty clothes need to go in the hamper if they’re lying around.
Shouldn’t be hard, right? I mean if I cook the meals how hard is it for them to clean up?
Apparently as difficult as translating the Rosetta Stone.
So let me explain why I lost it so badly. I told my daughter, Hannah, on the way down the stairs this morning that the dishes had to be done. There were, literally, no plates, bowls, spoons or forks to eat with this morning. None. I told her that if we didn’t have them done not only did we have nothing to eat off there was nothing to cook on either.
So fast-forward to about 6pm. We’re in the break between storm #1 and storm #2 of a 3-storm frenzy here in Sacramento. A so-called “Pineapple Express” is on its way and we’re about to get plastered. It’s not even raining or windy and the drivers here have lost their minds. Either too slow and rubber-necking (which drives me bat-sh*t crazy!) the wrecks on the opposite side of the freeway or weaving because they’re on their cell phones. My normally 40-minute commute in a car (normally I take the train, but it was raining) took me 1 1/2 hours.
So I stop at Target, get – as a treat for the girls – soup, including Panera’s Broccoli-Cheddar for a warm comfort-food meal. Don’t do it often, but got that and Disney-fied Phineus and Pherb chicken noodle for the boys. I had split pea.
But walking in the door I hear “X-Factor” on the television upstairs and the kitchen is actually worse off than when I left. I opened the dishwasher and it’s full of the same dishes from 2 days ago! I lost it. I put the bags down and trying to be calm I sat on the couch and turned on the television and sat there.
Hannah came down the stairs . . . after about 20 minutes . . . and was excited to tell me something. I interrupted her.
“You have any idea how pissed I am right now?!”
“Look to your right. What do you see in the kitchen?”
“What was the one thing . . . the one thing I asked you to do tonight!”
“Clean the kitchen.”
The boys walked in . . . “what’s for dinner?”
“Nope . . . I have no way to cook it. No pans. No spoons. No bowls. No dishes . . . no dinner. If they’re not done by bedtime no dinner tonight. Sorry.”
See . . . even if she’d run the dishwasher there was at least an hour wait and it was almost 8pm already.
She went in and washed three pans . . . five bowls . . . and all the spoons. By hand.
After we all ate and sated ourselves I informed them that, again, there’s no dessert. No pans, no utensils . . . no dessert. Heads hanging they did their bedtime routines and got ready. As Hannah started to head up with us I stopped her:
“Get back down there and do the dishes!”
She did them . . . to the extent that the dishwasher – already full – was run. She snuck to bed and left another massive mess on the counter.
My balancing act here, though, is that I have to make the lunches and such. While I wouldn’t have starved my kids, I can’t skimp on their lunches because there are too many people who would make a fuss and be nosy and just a pain in my behind if I didn’t give them a full lunch. So I made a small pan of brownies and that was it.
Their older sister, you see, had tons of homework and didn’t know how to juggle the responsibilities . . . along with her own part-time job. Tonight, though, I’m sicking her on them.
If the kitchen is still a mess . . . I might just go to the movies . . . alone . . . and let them fend for themselves.