One of the struggles I always encounter with my kids is dividing up the chores. As formerly sheltered kids who weren’t really required to do much around the house, life with the “single” me as their mommy has certainly taken on a different view. I try to explain to them that no one works for them and we ALL have to contribute to keep this household afloat. A far cry from our life with a live in nanny who catered to us ALL!
My boys were honored with the task of folding and taking everyone’s clothes to their room….yep, it was laundry day. In an effort to further teamwork (yeah right) I piled all of the clean laundry on the couch and told them to work together until it was all finished (again…yeah right). No sooner than I had left the room my oldest son comes to tell me his younger brother is not “helping”, so I begrudgingly left my desk to go back in to see what the problem could be. Looking around I saw a basket on the floor which contained hmmm maybe 30% of the clothes and the remaining 70% were still in occupy couch mode. My middle child’s philosophy was he would do the laundry in the basket and his older brother would fold what’s on the couch. Fair enough? NOT!! As I attempt to calmly explain to him that’s not an equal distribution of labor, he get’s mad and starts to throw a fit (nine year old middle kid style…go figure). I have very low tolerance for this kinda stuff, particularly as I try and encourage my kids to talk about what’s bothering them…I am not one from the school of thought where folks just blow up. Blame it on my Psychology degree, just talk about it…makes things much easier, right? In any event, this is clearly not the route he chose on this given day. In my all or nothing parenting style, I said, ”Fine, guess what? Since you want to fall out and lose it, here. You now how the privilege of doing it all by yourself! Now go to your room!!!.” A fit, a few foot shuffles and some tears later, he retreats to his room with me dragging the basket behind. My instructions were clear! DO NOT leave this room until all of the clothes are folded. He plopped onto his bed miserable, as if the entire world had just come crashing down on his sweet little shoulders.
Don’t you love how when one kid is in trouble, suddenly the “free kids” are now super sugary sweet and quickly capitalize on the punishment of their fellow man?! Sad, lol. I move on about the evening helping with homework and getting dinner started. As the time passes, I am wondering how much progress he is making…I’ve passed once to put my ear against the door just to make sure he hadn’t turned on the TV and all was silent. Figure I better go take a look and see. When I opened the door, to my surprise this little boy is curled up fast asleep on top of the pile of laundry!! I had to laugh, matter of fact I should have taken a picture. I woke him up and told him to get busy and he got moving.
The evening was full of regular duties, making dinner, reading books and a little TV time. All peppered with appearances from him here and there, dropping off piles in everyone’s room. He seemed happy, decently productive for all practical purposes. The crying had subsided and the attitude seemed to shift back to normal. All was well in his world! After the other two went to sleep, he came in my room and asked if he could read to me….so sweet. Of course! I tucked him in, told him I loved him, we talked about the lessons learned from the experience of the evening, I told him I was proud of him for finishing and kissed him goodnight.
The morning started like any other day, I got up early to get dressed before the kids rose for the day. As I made breakfast and got everyone moving, my oldest came in and said he didn’t have any socks. Looking perplexed, I walked into the laundry kings room to ask him. I asked where were the socks, denying any culpability he shrugged his shoulders and moved on to go brush his teeth. I looked in my daughters room…no wayward socks. I knew I had just looked in my drawers….nothing. As I continued my inquisition I could see him beginning to squirm uncomfortably. Deny deny deny. Where did it go? Did the laundry fairy take it? Hmmm I smell a rat. I decided I would leave him in his room, close the door and let him figure out how he was gonna work is way out of this one. I know my child, I know his thought process and knew if given time in solitary and a short rope that he would hang himself! Upon my return, he had pulled out his suitcase from the closet and therein, was ALL of the missing laundry from weeks ago!!! I was furious on the outside but dying LAUGHING inside that he just put it all in a bag and sent it packing! I gotta give him credit, because I am hip to the I-hide-everything-in-my-closet-when-I-don’t-wanna-clean-up trick…so naturally the closet was the first placed I looked.
My poor baby, he lost his phone and TV and shed some more tears for getting busted in the biggest laundry smuggling ring to hit our neighborhood. With every tear and every hard time, my hope is there is always a lesson (and some damn funny stories) on the other side. I see their growth, I see the progress and I know the next time he will do it with a little less attitude and maybe we’ll all have clean socks and underwear too