The kids play with them for about five hours less than the time they play with the box it came in. Our stomachs growl in hunger for the lunch we skipped to pay for that toy (and its box). Then, to add insult to injury, we find the toy and its brothers everywhere.
And so, I have concluded that we need to no longer fund this operation. My husband decided that long ago, and continually reminds me of this resolve every time he has to walk in the house.
I’ll hear his voice from the boys’ rooms: Who left all these Legos on the floor! We need to put these all away till they learn to clean up!
Then there was the time of The Battle of the Art Cupboard. I’d hear everything from, Who painted the floor? to Who didn’t clean up after his papier-mâché? to Why is there confetti all over?
I tried. Sort-of. I limited birthdays and Christmases to number and cost. I encouraged thrift and order. I devoted about a decade to teaching (yelling at) our miniature houseguests the meaning of “Clean up.” I cleaned on my own; again and again and again.
In frustration, I moved most of the mess out of general sight and set up a toy room in our unfinished basement.
As my husband and I snuggled in to immediately fall asleep all romantic-like, he said, We need to keep the kids’ toys in their closets. The basement is getting too messy.
People have long joked that their washing machines lose socks. No matter how fastidious they are about tracking those little buggers, a black hole opens up somewhere along the laundry path and orphans many a sad pair. I can relate, of course, yet I can also compete.
My washing machine not only eats socks; it also eats underwear and sports uniforms AND uses the digested materials to create plastic fish, Nerf darts, a plastic witch finger, and (I kid you not) packets of condiments.
I’m not sure why or how I came to own such a gifted machine as this, though I did notice its magical properties exhibited after we had children.
…It’s probably coincidental.
Unlike a dog delivering the paper or a cat delivering mouse organs, I haven’t much use for the presents I find in the laundry. I also tend to worry about the objects’ effects on the clean clothes. The fish and Nerf darts and witch finger are usually well-behaved, but the mayonnaise and ketchup are not exactly fabric softeners.
And, I’m concerned about using something created from a process I can’t see. What if the washer’s methods involve lint and elastic waistbands?
As helpful and generous as the washing machine is, I would rather have the powers in reverse. Instead of my son’s karate pants becoming a beanbag frog, I could deposit mustard and hot sauce in return for a red and gold soccer uniform.
I’m sure I would at least get a pair of socks.
This past week’s posts:
Sunday, March 10: “Selfish Selflessness,” a post outlining the tough midpoint we mothers find ourselves in.
My kids do not like to do chores. I can’t blame them, because I’m in a similar boat.
But I’ve noticed that boat gets rather dingy and near-sinking when the entire crew gives into laziness. Whether the surly crew likes it or no, they live here. They keep eating in the mess hall, pooping on the deck, and shredding the rigging.
Now, to my credit, I’ve had my kids do work around the house since they were big enough to reach the dishwasher and not fall over. Mostly that was because they were already ‘helping’ with any cleaning I tried to do -but I ran with it.
The inspiration for today’s advice comes from an odd idea I formed at the start of this school year: that they shouldn’t have housework because they had schoolwork to worry about.
My boys still had weekend housework jobs, of course, but nothing on the weekdays.
For months I saw them come home, tell me they didn’t have homework, then laze around until computer time (also monitored and restricted, thank you very much).
We-e-e-e-e-ell, it turns out that I got terribly overwhelmed, resentful, irritated, etc. I also had no time for me, even notcounting the times I snuck off to my (messy) closet to type up advice I don’t follow.
It turns out they are more than capable of doing some work after school, especially if they have to finish said work before playing.