Last week was one of those run, run, run kind of weeks. The kids had day camp, I hurt my back, there as swimming, baseball, and late night swimming. Our weekend plans involved the zoo and getting ready for camp. Needless to say, by Friday night, we were all tired, cranky, and ready for a break.
Friday night came with a late baseball game scheduled. After an afternoon at the pool and ice cream, this momma was tired. Instead of ordering out, the kids requested their summer favorite: jasmine rice. One kid likes it this way and the other that. Our dinner was a basic rice dish, prepared three different ways. (It’s so simple, and it’s the ONLY meal I will customize to taste.)
Anyway, we were eating a semi pleasant meal, that involved banter and loud disagreeing between the ungrateful, tired kiddos. I was about to snap, because we ALL know how I loathe ungratefulness. The dog whined. I took her out. I came in and joined my loves at the dinner table. The dog barked.
“Will one of you please take her out?”
“You just did, there’s no point,” my son answered.
“I know, BUT when she barks, we take her out, so she knows that is what it means,” I stated back.
I don’t remember what else was said, but I remember lots of loud complaining and storming around. I looked at my rice. I felt tired. I remembered the baseball game. I felt tired. I looked at my messy kitchen. I FELT TIRED.
“Never mind. I’ll take her out. It’s too much trouble for you. Instead, we’re trading places. You two WILL clean up this kitchen like I do every night. Before you think you’re done, it has to look EXACTLY as I leave it every night. I’m tired of your fighting, complaining, and expectations. I’ve had enough!” I’m sure my voice was louder than intended, just like theirs was throughout our meal.
Two kids stared at me like I went mad.
“But… but…” I heard and simply walked away.
I took the dog out and came back in. No one moved.
“You have work to do. We have to leave for your game in an hour, I suggest you get this done if you want to go.”
“But, Mom, I don’t have the skills for this! You did not prepare me!” my son pleaded.
“I’m too little,” my daughter begged.
I looked around the kitchen. “You DO have the skills. I taught them to you. Now, if you didn’t care to learn, then I suggest you use your best problem solving skills. I have two very intelligent children, surely you can figure this out. You have a job to do and it has to be as good as the way I do it. I’m tired. I’ll be in my room. Let me know when you’re done.”
Five minutes later, I hear a knock on my door. “Mom, where do the spoons go?”
“You know the kitchen, where do you think they go?”
“Can’t you come help us?” he begged.
“Nope. You’re smart. Figure it out. Use your problem solving skills.”
Two minutes later, he knocks again. “What do we do with the leftover rice?”
“What do I do with it?” I asked.
“You keep it.”
“Then keep it.”
“Where are they? You live here,” I responded.
By the third knock, I grabbed my shoes to take the dog for a quick neighborhood stroll. “I’ll be back. Time is running out before you have to leave for baseball. That is, if you get done.”
“Do I have to finish? Shouldn’t I get ready???” a desperate voice asked.
“Is the kitchen clean? You’re both grounded from EVERYTHING until this job is done.”
I left. I walked the dog. I listened to music. I prayed for patience. I prayed for good mommy skills. I prayed to be a better teacher to my children. I prayed. Finally, I returned home.
The house was quiet. The kitchen was cleaner. The kids were in their rooms.
My son comes out in his baseball gear, “Well, how did we do?”
I instructed the kids on what they needed to fix. I have them do it a few times. When the kitchen was clean, I went to my room to get ready for the game.
The rest of the weekend, the kids took the dog out without complaining. They did it with a grateful heart; and thanked me numerous times: NOT for cleaning up after meals, BUT for not making THEM do it. I will take any victories I can get, no matter how small.
The moral of the story: when your mom is teaching you how to clean and you refuse to learn, it’s you that will regret it, NOT her. OR simply, take the dog out and pick up her poo with a smile on your face, because the alternative might take you MUCH longer to figure out.