Seen and Heard

by Stefani on 10-August-2007

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?

Wrong.

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)

“But….”

“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:

Milk

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:

Clean

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.

Sarah Jackson August 10, 2007 at 11:34 pm

That’s awesome. Love that boy! I think our boys have much in common, as do we. I would have abandoned the cleaning as well (and often do).

dana August 11, 2007 at 4:31 am

Soooo funny! I can totally relate!

Once the van was filthy. I took it to a car wash place and told the girls they could unbuckle from their seats and play around in the car while I washed it. How long does this take? What maybe 6 minutes tops? Well, as I’m spraying and scrubing and spaying some more I see in the back window my oldest pushed up against the window spelling out “hurry up” in sign language!!!!!! After I stopped laughing I got in the car and we drove off.

brit August 11, 2007 at 5:14 am

You had me sniveling at the beginning and laughing by the end…

I walk that same line because sure they won’t remember that the house was clean, they’ll just remember that I played with them.

but they’ll remember be lost in the laundry pile for a week…I’m betting.

kirsten August 11, 2007 at 6:04 am

Ha! i love it.

Ellie August 11, 2007 at 7:09 am

oooh… When I ask Ari to go and play lego, he wants me to play with him. Or otherwise he wants to “help” me wash-up, vacuum, do the washing, tip all the clean + folded clothes onto the floor. Lucky I hate cleaning, and can blame my kids on never doing it! Also, isn’t it great how things are learnt when needed most – like learning to write so one can have some milk. I bet Mother of The Year actually has a house keeper – full time, or maybe a full time nanny…

erin August 11, 2007 at 12:26 pm

oh, how i love this post!

Sarah August 11, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Haha, Jack won’t stay in his room for a minute either. I discovered the other day that if I set the kitchen timer he will stay in there until the timer goes off though. I consider that real progress!

Leigh-Ann August 11, 2007 at 4:47 pm

what a snarky goof. love him!

kristin August 11, 2007 at 6:17 pm

oh yes!!! what a wonderful thing to capture on film…and i KNOW the woes of kids not wanting to stay in their rooms!

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