I realize my blogs of late have been rants and mostly annoyances with my kids as the top subject. But, really, I do not understand why it has to be so hard. The kids have daily chores. They are written down in plain view. They are simple and concise. If they are done each day as outlined, they take approximately 15 minutes a day. 15 minutes out of 24 hours is really not too much to ask. Some of the kids do their chores every day. Some do not. Some blatantly ignore them and see them as mere "suggestions" or "guidelines" rather than hard and fast rules.
For the past two days I have not said a word about the kitchen table, despite the fact that we have not been able to eat there for dinner because it's been covered. With what? Here are but a few of the items: a Choco Taco wrapper from the ice cream man, a Go-Gurt wrapper, two dirty plates, three dirty cups, a package of Twistables crayons, a cup of pens, scissors, a box of envelopes, several sheets of paper, and crumbs to name a few things. None of this was touched, put away, moved or wiped off in two days. So, I called in the troops to do their duty. And was I met with the wrath! How dare I request they pick up after themselves? The nerve! On the counter? The milk, a large container of yogurt, two large jars of peanut butter, jelly, dirty knife, Ovaltine, the Magic Bullet blender, dirty paper towels. The remnants of a snack you say? Absolutely! The snacks were enjoyed and the mess left behind for - who? Me? I don't think so.
When I heard the inevitable "that's not mine" I reminded them that I spend a good portion of EVERY day picking up things that are "not mine". To which I got "well, you're a mom, that's your job!" Not a good answer. Almost as bad as when I reminded them that I have a J-O-B and they said "oh, right, you play with two adorable kids and a cute puppy all day!" Excuse me?
I don't know when kids got the idea that they are equals, or worse, above their parents, but the buck stops here. I am sick of being sassed, ignored and disrespected and hearing the wrath when I dare to request that they pick up after themselves and be contributing members of this family. I even got a "you're pissing me off right now so I'm not going to talk to you anymore" (guess which kid?) and she promptly called her dad to "rescue" her from this dire situation, which he did (and guess who didn't do her chores today?). I'm sure at this very moment they are luxuriating in the permissiveness of daddy's house, watching TV, spending unlimited, unsupervised time on the computer and being happy they are not at their witch mom's house. Even though it's my night with them (and you better believe this won't be happening again - however, this time my anger got the better of me and I said "go ahead and call your dad and don't let the door kick you in the ass on the way out". But I digress.......)
See, the problem here, is I would NEVER have said some of the things my kids say to me to my own mom and dad. And why? Because I would have been smacked! And if I smack my kids? Oh, they threaten all the time to "call CPS" if I even joke about hitting them. That's the kind of world we live in. I tell them go ahead and call, and by the way, enjoy foster care! They have NO IDEA how lucky they are. Nor do they appreciate it. So, it forces me to be the "bad guy" and the drill sargeant just to teach them to follow some rules and have a little respect. What I don't get is that they have always known right from wrong. They have been taught manners and are well-behaved outside of the house. But inside the house? Whoa. So rude.
You know the old saying "this hurts me more than it hurts you" (supposedly uttered as a child was receiving a spanking)? Well, it really does hurt to have to yell at the kids. To have to tell them daily to do the things they already know they're supposed to be doing. I enjoy doing nice things for them, but it seems the only way to make them see the light is to stop being nice at all. I often bring them little gifts - a new shirt or a treat "just because" and I think instead of appreciating this, they have come to expect to be treated like royalty. I know kids will never appreciate all their parents do (and the hell they put them through) until they have kids of their own (and I can just hear my parents laughing now!) but I find it hard to believe that decent, empathetic kids like my own cannot see how much is done for them and show a little appreciation by being contributing members of a family, without the yelling and consequences and punishment and enforcement.
They are all excited that school is almost out for the summer! Yay! Freedom! But I think a little less freedom and a few more rules might be just what is needed around here. The many priveleges they have go unappreciated and so they must be fewer. They must be earned.
And, yes, my kids read this. I hope they get something out of it. I've gotten some good advice from those of you who read this blog over the past few posts and I intend to put some of it into practice. But most of all, I hope my kids see that asking them to clean off the kitchen table is NOT the same as asking them to cut off their hands, and they should not react as though it were. It would take five minutes of effort to avoid a whole evening of yelling, anger and "escaping" to the confines of their dad's house.