I’m not jealous of people who have humongous houses, take amazing vacations or even of women who can pull off having Restylane injections that make them look like they just had their cheeks replaced with bookshelves.
No, what gets me green with envy are families with chore charts. The more elaborate the chore chart the more jealous I get. From the cutesy, colorful felt chore chart with Velcro stars for a job well done to a dry erase board that looks more complicated to understand than instructions for putting together a chest of drawers from Ikea.
You see, I am a chore chart dropout. No, I’m lying. To be totally truthful, I’m actually a chore chart never was. In all my years of raising children I’ve never done a chore chart or even so much as listed my kids “responsibilities” on a Post-It note or napkin.
Here’s an overshare for you disguised as total disclosure — my kids don’t do much in the way of chores. Yeah, sure they mow the grass and are required to keep their rooms decent but they’re not scrubbing the kitchen floors or spending quality alone time with a bottle of Clorox Disinfecting bathroom cleaner. My explanation for their lack of chore due diligence is simple: I’m an enabler and in my defense I’m going to argue that I believe most parents are when it comes to household cleaning. Which is why last week I was on the floor of my daughter’s room laughing hysterically.
I was listening to Steve Kraske’s radio show on KCUR and a family therapist of some sort was talking about getting kids to earn their keep via domestic responsibilities. (Hilarious already, right?) This topic prompted numerous call-ins from people (very pompously, I might add) sharing their success at getting their kids to help around the house, etc.
While listening to all this I’m attempting to get clean sheets on my daughter’s bed (oh, the irony) when one mother called in and went off on her children’s daily list of responsibilities. I’m thinking she must have been high on oven cleaner fumes or something, because not only do her kids clean the entire house, walk dogs, look after younger children but she has a chore reward system that tracks their every move. Check this out, for her kids to be able to earn 30 minutes of reading time they must log 30 minutes of corresponding outside activity. This is when I was laughing so hard my foot got trapped in the upper right corner of a twin fitted sheet and I hit the ground. No worries, I was fine because there was an almost three-foot high pile of clean and folded laundry that my daughter had never put up to break my fall.
When I was done howling, I searched amid the laundry debris for my cell and phoned into the show. I felt it was my duty as an average, unchore-tracking mom, to call out these parents. Seriously, what mother, even if she does have the time, logistical skills or Chore Monster app wants to spend her every waking moment refereeing and calculating domestic contributions. At some point in your parenting career, you want to simply enjoy your children even if they are slobs.
I was excited when my call into KCUR got picked up on the second ring. I was not excited when I did not get put on the show. The phone screener told me, “someone else was making the same point.” I’m thinking that’s radio code for,
“you sound too brilliant for us to put on the air”
because no one was making my point. Not one person was brave enough to shout loud and and proud, “My kids are messy, can be lazy and I can’t remember the last time they unloaded a dishwasher and I don’t care!”
I also wanted to ask the family therapist if he didn’t think the obsessive tracking and scheduling of a kid’s every waking move wasn’t ground zero for raising a serial killer. They wouldn’t let me ask that question either. In fact, I think that earned me a “Thanks for calling KCUR” hangup.
Whatever. I know I’m right. Now excuse me, I have to go fold more laundry, carry it up the stairs to my kids’ rooms and watch it never get put away.