Somebody on Facebook recently asked me what chores are like in my house, so I thought I’d tell you about it in entirely honest, unequivocal terms.
In short, it fucking sucks.
Perhaps it’s a result of bad parenting, and surely in response to this post, all sorts of helpful humans will suggest infallible tactics to WHIP MY ASSHOLE KIDS INTO SHAPE, or, better yet, get my sorry ass functioning on the level of the enlightened, but I don’t fucking care. The truth is what it is, for whatever reason, and chores around my house go like this:
The second the teenager starts working, her mood becomes that of downtrodden elderly person sick of the way life has mistreated her all these years.
She generally walks around doing her work while shouting at her siblings for failing to do theirs and asking my husband and me if we would please “start parenting our children.”
I usually look at her and wonder if perhaps a better option would be to burn the fucking house down.
I TOO AM ATTEMPTING TO PARENT HERE, TEENAGER, BUT HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT I AM WORKING WITH?
Incidentally, she’s my favorite kid whilst doing chores because although she is annoying as fuck, she is, in fact, DOING SOMETHING, which is generally more than I can say for my son, who’s twelve, and has to be asked 5 to 27 times to complete a single task.
Every time it’s chore time, he suddenly has to go to the bathroom, for a long time, or he begins doing a task, such as the dishes, only to get distracted almost immediately by a funnel, which he will fill with water and bubbles until Mac or I walk by and remind him of the importance of progress in such situations.
He gets back on task but then sees a jar with a lid, which is apparently fucking fascinating, or hears Phineas & Ferb echoing out of the iPad held on the lap of his seven-year-old sister, who has been asked three times to turn the iPad off and clean her room.
Twelve year old somehow forgets all reality and saunters over to observe the sound, which now has my husband almost roaring because we’re on reminder number 6 to DO THE DISHES.
I take seven-year-old by the hand and escort her into the room, where I glance at the one-foot piles of clothes everywhere and ask, again, why all the clothes have to be removed from the drawers in order to find a single outfit.
“I was looking for my dinosaur shirt” is somehow her categorical answer.
Well, also there’s, “I don’t know.”
So infinitely helpful, these kids.
I scan the room with 12,000 stuffed animals never played with but somehow of great sentimental importance and the overturned magnetic tiles bin, the dress up clothes, the Legos—and I’m overwhelmed with such a sense of existential malaise I usually just stand there with mouth open wondering if this is really my life.
After staring into the ontological void, I often walk out of the room hoping for the best, knowing there’s a good chance the kid will shove all the shit under the bed. I’m conflicted about the whole bed-shoving thing. On the one hand, it’s a useless, lazy activity simply moving the mess from one location to another.
On the other hand, it moves the mess from one location to a less visible one, which in my state of deep malaise, kinda feels like a win.
To understand my standards in moments like that, please take regular standards and remove them entirely.
If I don’t leave, I usually start working, somehow always donating 20% of what I see to the goodwill pile – BUT HOW DOES THE SHIT JUST KEEP MATERIALIZING OUT OF NOWHERE? – while shouting to Mac how “we need to make the kids pick up their room every day after school!” and he adamantly agrees despite the fact that we have never once accomplished this task with any regularity.
Alternatively, I will call him into the bedroom to say things like, “Do you see this shit?”
And “SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH OUR FUCKING KIDS.” Or I blame their habits on him.
I find that goes well.
We will then usually say something about garbage bags and how all items on the floor will end up in them unless shit starts changing today.
Vague threats and empty rhetoric are my most essential parenting tools.
Meanwhile, the three-year-old is running around with a large sword from the dude in Moana, whacking his siblings until they engage with him and Mac and I shout “Get back to work!”
The dog sits farting in the living room.
To contain him (the toddler, not the dog) sometimes we’ll turn on the TV, but then the sweet siren sound of the electronic babysitter radiates throughout the house, attracting the semi-addicted 7-year-old and 12-year-old until all three are huddled in living room and the teenager is once again accusing me of “not parenting.”
This generally continues for two to four hours until each kid (sans toddler because he’s useless) has managed through some miracle of baby Jesus, Mary, and Buddha, to complete the fucking chores on their chore list.
As miserable as chore time is, the idea of not having them do chores is about eighty times worse because who the fuck wants to raise entitled assholes who won’t do chores? I DO NOT.
And yes, I know, Super Capable Mother who will comment on this very post letting me know how I need to be consistent, firm, and reasonable and my kids will follow in line perfectly, I REALIZE MY DEFICIENCIES ARE THE PROBLEM HERE AND NO I HAVE NO POINT OTHER THAN TO SAY CHORE TIME SUCKS ASS.
The most infuriating part of chore time is that at the end of it, each and every kid minus the toddler because all he cares about is removing toys from shelves we just organized starts saying things like, “Wow, our house sure is nice when it’s clean like this!”
And I’m like “Yeah, it really is isn’t it? Maybe we could do this WITHOUT THE WRATH OF SATAN.”
But they look at me like I’m speaking some other language.
Sometimes, when feeling entrepreneurial, I will print out some chore charts and through a hundred forms of self-delusion, convince myself that my devotion to them will last more than three days.
Oh, and how long does the nice clean hopeful beauty house last?
One to one and a half hours.
So yes. There you go. That is how it goes down in my house. Every damn time, even though we’ve had kids for nearly 16 years and there are four of them.
Bring on the internet helpers! I’m all ears!
That is a lie. I am not listening.
If I listened, wouldn’t I be in better parental shape by now?
In other news, here’s my toddler’s contribution to chore time:
I may suck at chores, but I don’t suck at teaching writing.
COME WRITE WITH ME GODDAMNIT