I blew up at my kids last week when I found myself cleaning out the dishwasher, cleaning up breakfast and lunch dishes, making dinner, and then after dinner, cleaning up those dishes as well.
“Why aren’t you guys following the chore chart!” I screamed up the stairs to where each were sequestered in their rooms, slouched over computers.
“Its summer! We don’t have our normal routines!” Was my daughter’s response.
“But its still Tuesday!” I retaliated.
“That’s it!” I grabbed the chore chart off of the fridge where it had been taped for over two years. “We are going to try something new! I will now pay for each job instead of giving you one lump-sum allowance at the beginning of each month!”
There was panic and tears and lots of “But that’s not fair!”
I plunked down and opened Excel and plotted a chart with chores giving them each a price. How much for clearing the dishwasher? $5? I wish I could get paid that much for clearing out a dishwasher! I’d be a millionaire by now! I finished the chart and printed it out and went to discuss it with the rulers of my kingdom. There were more tears. More of “that’s not fair!” Me trying to reason, “let’s just try it for a week.” But my reason got angry and I turned into a four year old, something I seem to do sometimes, something I am not proud of. I crumpled the new form and threw it on the ground and stormed downstairs to seethe.
The next day I noticed the new, now crumpled chart taped to the fridge, a check mark by Olivia’s name. One more has been added in the week since, but that is all. The new system has failed.
WARNING: I am about to whine…
I want summer to end! The demands for rides, money, the draping oneself across my lap like a cat as I work at my computer, with the inevitable “I’m BORED!” I find myself with strange 45 minutes blocks of time to do the variety of chores I must do like pay bills and map out websites and do homework for my writing class and apply for new passports. Never mind writing my book….
OK, I think I’m done whining now.
There is a Staples TV commercial that I love with a dad pushing a cart full of school supplies down the aisle of a Staples store. As he skips along (to the tune of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”), the kids sulk behind him walking as if they are on death row. I laugh every time I see it.
When you are a 24/7 single mother, summers are dreaded. They wear you down. There are no breaks. I have yet to figure out a way of getting my kids to go to overnight camp at the same time, something that I had dreamed would be a given by now. I dreamed of CIT and then being paid to have fun every summer being a camp counselor. I assumed that by this age my summers would be almost completely free of children.
I talked to my friend whose kids are with their father for the week. “I’m kind of depressed,” she admitted. “I don’t know what to do without my kids here.”
“Ohmygosh!” I said. “I can’t even imagine a whole week without either of my kids around. That must be wonderful! All the things you can do!”
“What would you do?” She asked. The list was easy:
– See a movie on my own
– dinner/lunches out with friends
– Plan a trip/writing conference (maybe in Hawaii?? haha.)
– Spend an entire day reading
– Write all day
… and then I started to slow down with the ideas.
“Yeah, I’ve already done most of those things,” she said. I still have five days to go.
The grass is always greener…
And then I remembered that Olivia has only 3 more years of high school and that the years of having them home will be short.
And so, last night I cleaned out the dishwasher and made a nice dinner, and even drove Olivia to her friend’s house and bought Carter a pack of gum on the way home (without one whine on my part).
There are only 14 days left before school starts. I better make the best of them. But I think its time to make a new chore chart.