I feel like I walk a fine line most everyday. On the one hand, I realize that my boys are growing up so fast, and that before I can say, “bye, bye baby,” they’ll be big, hairy, independent men with lives of their own. So really, the dishes, laundry and mopping can wait. I want them to know that they are more important to me than tidiness. Really, I’d rather be playing with them anyhow.
On the other hand though, I feel like it’s important for me to teach them to be responsible and to care for their home and their things. I think that working together to put our house back in order teaches them a lot about teamwork. And quite frankly, sometimes the piles of debris reach such epic proportions that I become a very cranky mommy. That’s good for no one.
So, while tip-toeing across that line with all the grace of a water buffalo, I told my guys to go and play in their rooms for just a little while so that I could get the floor swept and mopped. For real, if I hadn’t, someone might have gotten stuck to it and had to live there for all eternity.
Simple enough request, right?
My children are physically incapable of staying in their rooms when asked. They can play in there for half the day if it is of their own choosing, but let me ask them to do it, and they become little magnets drawn by unseen forces to the exact spot that I occupy. In other words, straight up my nose.
“Mama, can I get a drink?”
“Mama, brother said that I can’t kick the ball as far as he can.”
“Mama, what’s a tapeworm?”
“Mama can you show us how to make parachutes so we can jump from the top of the bunk beds?”
In and out and in and out they come, making a task that should take 5 minutes, an hour long affair.
At first, I go with the interruptions, because I want to be a good Mama and value their ideas and needs. I answer the questions, fetch the drinks, button the pants, settle the arguments, but after a while I just really want to finish my task so that we can move on with our day, for the love all that is holy! So, I say something full of understanding and compassion like, “Please, go play in your rooms for just a few minutes more and do not come out unless you are bleeding, your hair is on fire, or there is a flesh eating dinosaur crawling through your window, NOT the plant eating ones, only the FLESH eating ones. And while you are back there, you can clean too, because those rooms are filthy.” (Go ahead and cast your votes for me, for Mother of the Year)
“No, I do not want to hear another word, I love you with all my heart, but GO!”
Less than two minutes later I am met with this clever attempt to find a loophole in my directive:
This from the boy who is reluctant to write unless I am right there to tell him how to correctly spell every word. (This is the same kid who wants all his drawings to be exact replicas of their subjects.) He doesn’t want to spell phonectically, he wants to know that it is right, which means, writing is an arduous, pain-staking process for him. Which, in turn, means he hardly ever wants to do it. So, when he wrote an actual letter, all on his own, with no prompting from me, how could I refuse it? How could I not smooch him and reward that effort?
He got milk, and then he got cocky.
The next letter was delivered alongside a serious smirk:
Let me translate: “James is not cleaning.” James is the
tattletale’s author’s younger brother.
Yeah, I give up. The floor is only mildly cleaner, but my boy wrote two letters and we had a fun afternoon swimming. I’m gonna call that a succesful day.