Thursday, May 11, 2006



Kendrie -- Day 147 OT
Blaine -- Hanging tough in Seattle

Growing up, there was never any doubt that I had zero desire to go into teaching, tutoring, mentoring, education, instruction, coaching, training, or any kind of childcare or home daycare. Why? Because Lord knows I don’t have the patience. Yet, I thought it would be ok for me to have children of my own???? What the **heck** was I thinking???

Specific examples of why my children will need therapy when they are older. Or maybe sooner than I think:

#1. Kendrie was playing in the backyard the other day in her favorite tennis shoes and stepped in dog poop. She ran into the house, still wearing said shoes, tracking said poop on our new living room rug, to tell me about it. Exasperated, I told her to take OFF the shoes and leave them on the back patio. The poop would harden somewhat overnight and in the morning I would clean off the bottom of her shoe. Seemed like a foolproof plan at the time. Unfortunately, it rained a little that night. The next morning, the poop was a runny mess on the bottom of a soggy shoe. A shoe that Kendrie was emphatic she wanted to wear to school. While I did go ahead and clean the shoe, very unhappily, I might add, it wasn’t with the cheeriest of dispositions. No one-sided conversation has ever taken place at a kitchen sink with as many variations of the word SHIT inserted as I put forth that day. Perhaps I can still be a role model for my children. Just not before 8am and not if dog poop is involved.

#2. Around here, we have a system where every day is assigned to a kid. Families with only two children, I suppose, could do an even-odd day system, but since we have three kids, we just go in order. For example, if Monday is Brayden’s day, then Tuesday is Kellen’s, Wednesday is Kendrie’s, and Brayden starts over again on Thursday. It just goes continuously and I mark the calendar every month. Whoever's day it is, that person gets to choose which tv channel they watch, take their bath first at night, pick where they want to sit in a restaurant if we go out to eat, select which color bowl or plate they want with their dinner (yes, my kids argue over stuff as inane as that) …. Etc. You get the picture. We’ve been doing it for about two years now and it actually works pretty well at eliminating some of the arguments whining discussion over “She got to choose last time” or “It’s my turn to pick”.

Earlier this week, I took the kids with me to Kroger. At our local Kroger, the empty carts are kept outside the store (you might remember my rant a while back about all the carts being out in the rain one night and me taking some of Kendrie’s steroid frustration out on the poor innocent bagger whose bad luck it was to be standing there as I came inside with my wet cart and wiped it off with hand towels from the restroom) and as we walked up, the following conversation took place:

Kristie, “Whose day is it?”

Brayden, “Mine”

Kristie, “OK, would you go over there and get us an empty cart?”

Kendrie, “No fair!”

Kristie, “It is fair, it’s her day. You know how it works”

Kendrie, “How come I never get to push the cart? How come we never go to the store when it’s MY day?”

Kristie (feeling exasperated), “Oh, for Pete’s sake. I’m not going to let her push the cart in the store, I just want her to walk over there and get one.”

Kendrie (stomping feet, stopping at the door, and crossing arms against her chest) “I’m not going inside if she gets the cart!!!”

Kristie, “Get inside the store now, I’m not having this discussion with you.”

Kendrie, “It’s not fair, it’s not fair! Brayden always gets to do things on her day and I never do!”

Kristie, “I can’t help that today is her day. That’s just the way it worked out.”

Kendrie (voice at an intolerable whining level now, in the middle of the produce section) “You always choose fun things on Brayden’s day, why does she always get to do stuff?”

At this point, I had had it. Annoyed, frustrated, and losing what small bit of patience I indeed posses, I threw back over my shoulder as I walked off:

“Because I love her more.”

Yes. That’s right. I said it to one of my children, IN PUBLIC. I’m surprised the Gods of Fair Parenting didn’t smite me down right there next to the bananas.

As soon as I said it, the guilt began. Even though I was being sarcastic, it was wrong to say, as evidenced by the 6-yr old tears that had already started. Thus began an immediate rectifying conversation about what sarcasm entails, and did she REALLY think that I love one kid better? Honestly? Truly???? I knelt down right there in produce and made sure she understood. Although *I* know that **she** knows that I didn’t mean it, I did feel terribly guilty for even saying it sardonically. Really, shouldn’t parents …. Especially ADULT parents, know better?

#3. Blaine, I must confess, is a much better housekeeper than I am. And the kitchen is most certainly his territory. I cook almost every night, and he cleans. It’s a long-standing arrangement we’ve had, that has worked well for us since we were first married. Now that he’s gone, I admit that it’s the one chore I hate doing the most. I can take out the garbage, get my van worked on, water the yard, sweep, vacuum, whatever I need to do, but I despise cleaning up the kitchen each evening.

Last night, after dinner, I had the kids take showers, and I was helping with homework and reading. The dishes from dinner were still on the counter when a rainstorm came through and “POP”, our cable box was hit by lightening. My normal routine is after I put the kids to bed, I get online for about an hour, then clean up the kitchen and go to bed myself. Since we had no computer last night, or tv, I thought to myself, you know what? I'm tired, and I’m going to bed, too. The kitchen mess will still be there in the morning.

And boy, was it. It looked even worse in the glaring light of morning. Dishes that hadn’t even been rinsed, let alone put in the dishwasher. Glasses still half full of milk, sitting on the counter, and a half of a homemade chicken pot pie that I forgot to put in the fridge. Ga-ross! I was standing there, berating myself for being so lazy the night before (but berating myself in a well-rested fashion because I got eight full hours of sleep.) Kendrie walked in the kitchen, took a good look around, and announced to me, “Ewww. It looks like we live in a troll’s house.”

Ok, that really didn’t help things any.

#3. Fast forward to thirty minutes later. The kids, dressed and ready for school, had gone out in the backyard to get the dog some fresh water. Brayden came back inside, and thanks to that little rainstorm last night, tracked mud all over (you guessed it) our new living room rug …. Which at this point, is seriously not looking so new anymore.

I glanced around, trying to locate all the mud damage so I could clean it up, and saw toys on the floor, and book bags strewn about, and shoes and dirty laundry and now here comes the dog with more mud on his paws ………. AND …… I ….. JUST …… SNAPPED.

I’m not really sure what came over me. I made all the kids sit down at the kitchen table, and then I just went off. About how there are five people living in this house, but only two of us ever do anything around here, and one of those people is gone and so now I’m doing everything and I’m sick of it. SICK OF IT DO YOU HEAR ME????? And you know what the little rugrats had the audacity to do? Giggle. I really don’t think they were laughing *at* me, but by then had gotten the giggles and just couldn’t stop. And the more they tried to hide it, the angrier I got.

So then I launched into that speech that all parents deliver at some point in time: “What if I just decided to go on strike? What if I just quit doing laundry, or helping you with schoolwork, or buying you stuff, or shopping for food, or cooking food? What would you do then, Mr. and Ms. Smarty Pants?”

And Kellen looked me dead center in the eye and replied, “I would go to my school counselor and tell her you’re not taking care of us.”

OH. SO not the right thing to say. (Although, actually, I was sort of proud of him for coming to the conclusion that he would go to another adult with the problem. Proud of him in a twisted, demented, great-then-I’d-have-to-hide-from-Children’s-Services sort of way.)

But anyway, back to his comment. It was like I stepped outside of myself and could look over and see my own head spinning around. I snapped, “Well, hey, if you want to go live somewhere else, where people would take better care of you, you just let me know because we could sure arrange it!”

Yet another mature and reasonable comment from the adult in the house.

Anyway, much like the “never go to bed angry” rule, I also believe in never letting my children go to school with any of us angry, so we worked it out before we left the house. I mean, it’s not like we came up with any peaceable solution, whereby the children offered to take over all the household chores from now until eternity, but they did at least clean up their rooms before we left. And I didn’t even have to threaten to withhold dinner tonight. Which consisted of Pizza Hut, served on paper plates, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to wake up to another mess like I did this morning.

In the meantime, I’m off to clean the rug. Again.

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