I just watched my 13-year-old daughter look at a water bottle she got from the cupboard, smell it, touch it, say it was too dirty, then put it back. In the damn cupboard.
She could feel my eyes burning through her as I stood there in my robe, fist clenched around the door of the refrigerator. She knows I have not had any caffeine and was up late last night cleaning. She knows this angers me. She knows she’s capable of washing it so it’s up to her standard, or putting it in the dishwasher — there are a plethora of options, here — but she chooses the one that makes me want to open the front door and run far away to the land where kids put in a tad more effort.
Every day my kids make these choices. They put the clothes next to the hamper, instead of inside it because opening a lid really cramps their style. They think putting dishes in the dishwasher is a bit much, so piling them next to the sink will do.
The toilet paper roll doesn’t get changed, boxes of cereal and cookies get left with just enough crumbs in them so they can justify putting said box back in the cupboard, because God forbid they take the three extra steps to throw it away.
Putting shoes away never happens because letting them pile up like a huge mountain and fighting to find a matching pair every morning before school is way more fun.
I’m sick and tired of finishing half-completed tasks, and honestly, I expect more from my family than this. Their behavior isn’t for lack of me showing them the ways to clean, or taking away their devices so they can get the stank out of their bathroom. It’s not because I haven’t told them that if they don’t remove the funk that has taken up residency in their rooms they won’t be partaking in anything fun, eating anything fun, or watching anything fun until where they sleep is free of trash, dishes, and piled laundry.
I’m good at making threats, following through, and wearing my game face.
And still my kids seem set on perfecting their complaining and half-assing skills, including not finishing one freaking thing. They think I won’t notice they only vacuumed half the floor, or that the orange juice they spilled and let dry on the counter top has attracted a whole damn colony of ants.
But let me assure — I fucking notice.
And the empty can of tuna that is lying on the floor next to the trash? That gets the biggest “Are you fucking kidding me?” out of their mama. They know it, but for some reason, they don’t seem to care.
What is even happening here?
My kids have been known to say things like, “You expect things to be perfect all the time.” But let’s be very clear here: a parent’s definition of putting clothes in the actual hamper versus the floor does not equal perfection. Nor does wiping up pee from the toilet seat or floor if you dribble. These things are just basic common courtesy.
If we wanted things around the house perfect, we never would have had kids and used the money we would have spent raising them on a housekeeper to clean everything spotless each day, and put plastic wrap over the furniture.
But instead, we decided to have kids and would like to teach them it’s not that much harder to wet a cloth and wipe up crumbs after making a sandwich than it is to leave it there and listen to your mother or father boil over, because dammit all to hell, they just freaking cleaned.
You would think listening to me nag would start to get to them but so far, I see no evidence of that happening.
And until it does, I’ll be over here playing drill sergeant and finding mysterious liquids on every surface of my house.
Maybe by the time they graduate, they will have mastered getting their clothes actually in the hamper. I can only hope.
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