5 hours, 2 socks, a pillowcase and an 8-year old
It’s easier to build castles out of Jell-O than to get my kids to help clean up.
I said we’d go to the park with friends when we had the living room and dining rooms cleaned up. It was 9 AM. We did get to the park, but we didn’t leave until 2 PM. I didn’t say I was in a hurry.
The boys spent truckloads of energy moaning and whining about the clean-up job. They put together elaborate schemes about how we could or should do other things first and clean up later. “What if we went to the park first and then cleaned up when we got home?” Yeah, I’ve been down that slippery path before. It’s a one-way chute down a warm aluminum slide smeared with butter and you’re wearing a Teflon suit. It’s downhill and fast.
Cajoling, cobbling together fantasies about the clothes they picked up, stories of how they just cleaned their whole room while they were upstairs. Tit for tat and I’ll do this if you do that, I’l gladly buy you a hamburger Tuesday for a hamburger today.
Trust. Deceit. Lies. Love. Socks.
Isn’t there a fable about a frog and a scorpion? Something about trust but also murder and suicide. Sounds about right. Just put down the stinger, sir, and step away from the riverbank.
How hard could it be? Socks, a duvet cover to fold, some magazines to organize, clothes strewn about willy-nilly (I just wanted say willy-nilly). 15 minutes? Maybe 30 on a slow day, like a day in the ice age. We started at 9 AM, but it just wasn’t a priority for them. At 1:45, I warned them that I already texted their friend’s mother that we’d be there as soon as we cleaned up, but that we might be late and we might not make it at all if the pace didn’t pick up a bit. Grass was growing under our feet. Grass was growing under the socks on the floor. Grass was dying.
I calculated that we could have powered a small car from here to Fresno on the energy the boys expended in their concern, crying, excuse creation, and all-around avoidance of semblance of labor. Then the actual energy distributed to finally do the work would have powered a balsa wood glider from here to the sidewalk. With refueling.*
It all clicked in my older son’s reptilian brain that we truly might not see his friends and play soccer. It may have clicked when I told him in slow and small words that we would not see his friends if we weren’t done. He magically sprang to life and was even annoyed at the cold molasses pace of the younger one, who was reading his Donald Duck while lounging on the still unfolded duvet cover. With this burst of enthusiasm, I heartily joined in and we got the place spic and span within minutes.
Football was fast and rough and well deserved. It’s a good thing we didn’t have an actual appointment with people who cared about time or productivity or socks. It’s a good thing it’s Sunday and we had nothing else to do. Nothing other than a few socks, a pillowcase, and a duvet cover to fold.
*I realize gliders don’t need fuel. My kids are also about as far from gliders as a tractor.