Nothing gets my hackles up like unnecessary cleaning.
By that I mean . . . my cleaning and watching the other people in my household sitting on their duffs eating snacks that get crumbs on the newly vacuumed floor and then asking me if they can turn up the TV because…you know…that vacuum is loud, Dad!
The proverbial straw that broke my metaphorical camel’s back was the upstairs bathroom.
Let me explain to you why that’s the case. Since I was about 2-years-old I have had asthma…which goes back to a time when nobody knew what the hell asthma was. I grew out of the majority of the issues. Where I used to have to take medication every day I only carry a rescue inhaler when things are really bad.
Mold. Mold makes it really bad.
So with that context, you can see what bothers me about cleaning the bathroom.
Bear in mind, I have a bottle of Tilex and a can of Comet in the kids’ bathroom permanently. That’s so they can spray it down and prevent the mildew and mold.
So when I had finished with vacuuming, cleaning the counters, picking up backpacks and old homework assignments and grumbled, got angry and yelled . . . I found the bathroom.
The drain, even with the screen I’d placed on the bottom of the tub . . . was plugged. Bear in mind, of course, that my sons have very, very short hair. Their sister, on the other hand, has long, thick hair that she refuses to have cut. So when I had to stop down, go to the store, get a snake and drain cleaner and come back . . . I was already fuming.
That’s when the clump of hair mixed with mold and mildew flew out of the drain. The mold spores flew and I . . . just couldn’t breathe. Not emergency room kind of attack but chest hurts, gasping a bit, now hyperventilating from anger, too. It was fortunate for my daughter she was at a friend’s house because I had gotten to the point where I was fuming. I bleached, scrubbed, and finished the bathroom. I got a new shower curtain . . . again. I replaced the screen on the drain.
Then I calmed down and came to a decision.
My parents were the King and Queen of creative punishments. I decided . . . this wasn’t a punishment for my children. This. . . was an opportunity.
When my daughter got home I informed her what would happen.
“Two inches,” I informed her.
“Two inches of what, Dad?”
“Two inches will come off your hair the next time I have to snake the drain.”
She started to get her ire up and was about to shout when I held up my hand.
“I’m not yelling. I’m not mad. Your hair style is in your hands. Clean up your hair after your shower. Snake your own drain. Spray down the area or at least open the window and turn on the fan . . . and we won’t have a problem. If not, you lose 2 inches.”
“I’ll make you an appointment . . . I’m not going to sneak into your room at night and lop it off with my scissors. It will look nice.”
“She always cuts it too short!”
I smiled. Her older sister smiled, too.
“Well then . . . you have a further incentive to keep the bathroom clean. This isn’t a threat, it’s a promise. You have the control of this in your hands. Look at it as an opportunity to learn some responsibility and see the result of your own actions.”
She took a breath and . . . surprisingly . . . was okay with it.
“Okay,” she said. “That’s fair.”
Even I was surprised at the response. She leaned over, gave me a kiss . . . and went upstairs. I was happy.
Then I noticed . . . she’d left her dinner dishes on the table. Guess I hadn’t added that to the list.