Monday, June 28, 2010

Rules To Clean By

My family is coming in over the Fourth. So I have been making my children slaves earn their keep do their part around the house by cleaning. I have discovered a few things along the way and, because I am a giver, I will share them with you.

If you tell your children that you will be waking up early, there is a 90% chance that when you go to wake them up, at least 50% of your children will moan and complain that they are "tiiiiiired!" (Digression: I woke them at 8:30. In my book this is not early. My lazy dependents, however, have managed to get their days and nights turned around in the last week of post-vacation recuperation--a feat that they haven't managed since their infancy.)

Of the 50% complaining, roughly 50% will complain that their fatigue is your fault. Because you didn't make them go to sleep. Trust me. If I had that kind of power, I wouldn't be using to cause children to float off to dreamland. I would make the government do things that make sense. I would deliver world peace. I would make certain that all the world's chocolate was sent to my home. Free. And it wouldn't cause me to gain any weight.

Once all children are vertical, at least one will avoid any of his work by going in and distracting others from theirs.

When you call this child on it, he/she will crumple to the floor in tears and tell you how mean you are. He/she will again complain that it is not his/her fault. When you ask whose fault it is, your child will again blame you, because you were off having a good time (cleaning the crap out of your own disgusting bedroom--good times, all right!) and not supervising like you should be.

You may consider strangling this child. But don't do it yet. For it would deprive you of what's coming next.

Several of your offspring will discover, among the detritus of their bedrooms, musical instruments of various and dubious musicality (kazoo, I am looking at you). They will then have an impromptu jam session that you can hear from your water closet--which is behind three separate doors (bedroom, bathroom, water closet) and in which a fan is running. Talent, I says. They haves it! Book 'em on America's Got Talent! (Which I like to call the New Gong Show.)

After breaking up the band--way to go, Yoko!--you will remind the children that when everyone is done, we can head to the pool.

Listen to one of your children mutter that he/she doesn't want to go to the stupid pool anyway. Pools are stupid. Also they are dumb. Who ever thought of a pool anyway? What a dumb, stupid idea!

Go to your own room armed with two garbage bags. Use one to clean up the remnants of Christmas wrapping paper from your closet. Festive!

Use the other garbage bag to clean up approximately seven years' worth of car magazines from your beloved's nightstand. Hurry to the recycling bin and dispose of them before your beloved spots you and explains why he needs all of those magazines.

Stop in the middle of the hall and raise your finger and shout "EUREKA!!" after you figure out that your beloved is responsible for the pack rat tendencies of your offspring. Then, spend an extra few minutes going over the list of all the positive things about your beloved. Keep this list in your head. You will need it in a few minutes.

Clean the television in your bedroom. Roll in the dust that falls from it. Look ma! Gray hands!

Peek into your children's rooms. Praise them for the good job they are doing. Remind them that you WILL BE looking under their beds and in their closets.

Cast a look over your shoulder and watch your children skitter like roaches as they go to clean out all the crap they hid under their beds and in their closets.

Head into the laundry room and start your 347th load of laundry for the day. While the upper half of your body is in the washing machine, hear your name called 12 times by at least one child and your beloved. Answer in your loudest voice dripping with mock patience: "I'm in the laundry room! I can't hear you! Come here or wait a minute!"

Repeat that last sentence 7 times.

Hit your head on the top of the washer.

Remember that list? Use it now as your beloved mentions that he would like to reconfigure his office. The office that is in your bedroom. Just inside the door. With piles of paper that you dare not touch EVERYWHERE.

As he lovingly explains the changes he would like to make, repeat the list like a mantra in your head. Trust me. This or heavy drinking is the only thing that works--and heavy drinking is generally discouraged at 11 a.m.

Nod your head and say "Sure, babe. Whatever works best for you." Walk away biting your tongue.

Head downstairs to fix lunch. Ask everyone what they want to eat. Have them all shout back four different things.

Eye the wine bottle.

Shake it off and fix lunches. While everyone eats, remind them that the quicker they finish, the quicker you can get to the pool.

There is an 87% chance that one of your children will admit that the job in front of them is a very big one. There is a -798% chance that this child will admit they live in a pigsty. They will maintain that they "like it that way and can totally find everything."

There is a 100% chance that you will now remind them that the job would go quicker if they would just pick things up and put things away when they are done with them. There is a 100% chance that this child will disagree with you.

Rejoice when everyone (save one who has been granted a grace period to finish his/her room) is finished and can finally jump into their pool gear.

Head to the pool and spend 95% percent of your time responding to this phrase: "Mom! Watch this!"

Spend the other 5% telling your children on a revolving basis that it is NOT time to go yet and NO we are not going to the snack bar now.

Two hours later, give your children the "5 minutes left" sign. There is a 98% chance that the child who thought the pool was a dumb, stupid idea will not want to leave. Ever. Because a pool is the best place ever. In the whole world. And home is just dumb. And stupid.

Get home, get everyone out of their pool gear and remind them each three times where to put their wet stuff.

Marvel that everyone followed directions.

Crack open the wine bottle and have a celebratory glass--after all, it's after five p.m. now and totally socially acceptable to guzzle sip a glass of wine.

Sigh and realize that you get to do it all again tomorrow.

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