When thunderstorms scrapped our afternoon pool plans, I organized. Reorganized shoes in the closets, vacuumed, cleaned both bathrooms. The girls were pleased with a day of chilling out watching slightly too much tv, but they should have realized that any time I get organized, it doesn’t bode well for them.
Sure enough, after dinner I announced new chore rules. Okay, so I’m not great with keeping up with everyone’s various chores. The girls are expected to hang their items in the closet, help with setting the table and carrying out/clearing away the dinner table, and putting away their folded laundry. I often impose a ten-minute tidy before they can, say, turn on the tv or leave for the pool, and they’re used to it, so they don’t complain. But I’m not too consistent–we’ll go through phases where everything’s going great, and then things just get busy. And they’re horrible about leaving stuff scattered around, and J is terrible about putting laundry away.
So today, I told them that I wanted them to make it part of their morning routine to make their own (damn) beds and empty their clean laundry baskets before breakfast. Both of which they do, but not with Every Single Day regularity.
Then I also told them that any of their stuff that was left out in the living room or other common areas would be put into a box, and that they were allowed to remove the items in order to put them away, but if they didn’t, the box would be emptied into the garbage on Sundays and Wednesdays.
Now, come on: I’m totally going easy on them. When I was little, crap was just thrown away. And Mom, if you think that I’m not still bitter about the time you threw away all of my and Heather Hughes’ perfume and lip glosses that we left on the front porch that summer—well, you are wrong. That we were using it to concoct a lethal lemonade to serve to our enemies, the neighborhood boys, is entirely beside the point.
However, in spite of these terribly lenient rules, J immediately went into Worst Case Scenario mode and began sobbing that perhaps she would forget her most precious friend, Blue Doggy, and Blue Doggy would be placed in the box, where he would languish for days unnoticed until I heartlessly threw him in the garbage. “Seriously, J,” I said, “Don’t you think I might give you a warning? Don’t you think that if M or Daddy see Blue Doggy, they’ll mention to you that you might want to put him back in your room?” More tears. She drew a picture of my sinister hand, holding Blue Doggy poised over the trash can, with two words: “NO MOMMY.”
At bedtime, she was still tearful and fretting, and I was trying to calm her down when Cute W walked into her room and cracked, “Wow, I am so loving this new system. It’s working out great.” I looked him in the eye and replied, “Oh, blankyou.”
J asked, “Mommy, did you mean thank you?”
“Yes,” Cute W and I answered together.