Around the House

These damn kids. Day in, day out, with the eating and the wearing clothes, and then expecting to eat more and wear more clothes the very next day, all over again!

Okay, okay, I’m kidding. But I continue to struggle to get things done during the summer. I’ll admit that it’s much, much easier than when they were little. And they’re very self-sufficient. This morning M was up and out of the house for a long run with friends before I was even downstairs. So I shouldn’t complain. Really.

But I’ll do it anyway.

I feel like I am constantly buying more snack food. And there’s just, like, a trail of belongings all over the house.

Take, for example, the popcorn maker.

First of all, let’s show a little gratitude. How wonderful is it that my children are self-sufficient and able to produce their own healthful and not-too-expensive snacks? Really, they are marvels. Right now their favorite snacks are their beloved roasted chickpeas, carrot chips, and popcorn. How’s that for healthful choices? And even the popcorn isn’t butter-and-salt popcorn: nope, it’s usually sprinkled with some combination of spices, and that’s it.

But, really, how hard is it to put the popcorn popper away when you’re done with it? Apparently, it’s very difficult. So difficult that I added this note:



Now, here’s the thing. I don’t make empty threats, so this is a very well-thought-out threat. We happen to have a nice little patch of grass that is just outside the door from our kitchen (you may remember me throwing maple syrup out the door one winter).  Here it is:

So, of course I don’t want to lose or destroy the popcorn popper, but I bargained that if I had to “literally throw it out of the house,” I could gently toss is out the door and onto the little patch of grass, and hopefully it would be discovered before, say, a heavy rain.

But, as you might have expected, it didn’t come to that. It turns out that my children are, in fact, fully capable of not only lifting the popcorn popper off its shelf and carrying it to the kitchen table, but also–and this is the crucial part–they are capable of lifting the popcorn popper off the table and carrying it over to place it back onto the shelf. I always suspected this was true!

A week or so later, the existence of this note was brought up in conversation. “I find that note really annoying,” said one daughter, who is never, ever annoying in the slightest. “Obviously I can put the popper back on the shelf, but it’s just really irritating that you did that.” I pointed out that this particular daughter only actually began putting the popcorn popper away once the note was taped to it. “Well, yes, I do it, but I’m so mad about it that I don’t want to do it!” she said, sounding pretty flustered. And I laughed and said something like, “I don’t care how you feel about doing it, I just want you to do it.”

This is the kind of circular discussion we have often in our family. For example, I don’t want my children to discard their dirty socks randomly around the house. So I’ll say something in passing, like, “Could you please pick up those dirty socks and put them in the hamper?” And the kid will say, “Yes, yes, of course, I was just going to!!” and then I will come back two hours later and the socks are still there. And I’ll say, “Can you please get those socks?” and the kid will bluster angrily and pick up the socks and put them in the hamper and then they’ll mutter about how they don’t need to be told to put the socks away, obviously they’re not stupid and they know that dirty socks should go into the laundry, why is Mom such a condescending nag-machine (or whatever). And then I say something like, “You know, the way to prove to me that you know that dirty socks belong in the laundry is to show me by putting your dirty socks in the laundry. Because when you say that you know what to do with dirty socks, but then you leave them on the floor, you are demonstrating that apparently you don’t actually know what to do with your socks.” This, my children believe, is a ridiculous and unreasonable argument.

It is astounding how often this comes up.

And the thing is, they are really pretty good. They will spontaneously fold laundry and put away clean dishes and clear the table and pitch in, in general. However, perfection has not yet been achieved. During the school year, I have a fighting chance to at least catch up during the day. But during the summer, the schedule is all out of whack and I’m likely to stumble across the remains of a cooking project or some sweaty workout clothes at any moment of the day. Not to mention that someone’s likely to need a ride somewhere, or someone else really needs some food item or health & beauty aid. And back in the olden days, like, say, last summer, if the kids were getting on my nerves, I could leave them home and, say, pop over to Target to pick something up. And effectively it would be a quick little errand that would check something off my “to do” list while giving me some Serenity Time. But now that there’s a new driver in the house, a quick little break away from the house becomes an opportunity for someone to chauffeur me, making the trip less efficient and more stressful. Oh, well.

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