Saturday, December 24, 2011

Getting the Grease Out

Cleaning up.  Two hateful words.

As in I hate when the house is ready to crawl away from itself and "cleaning up" is the only way to save the situation.  And the kids hate when I lay down the law and involve them in the effort.

I've tried to keep my dislike of it all to myself.  You know, to set a good example for the wee ones.  But somehow, like me, they long ago adopted this same aversion.  Unfortunately, unlike me, they're more than happy to complain long and loud about it.

Cara: "Ryan, stop staring into space and dust already!"

Ryan: "Cara, stop being a security camera looking at me!  What are YOU doing?!"

Cara: "I'M straightening up!"

Ryan: "Yeah, well it's all YOUR crap YOU leave all over the place anyway!"

Cara: "Dirty tissues don't belong to ME!  God!"

Ryan: "Love ya!"

I left out the swearing, personal insults and gender hate that also seems to come naturally to them.

I know it would be somewhat easier to hire a cleaning service.  Trust me, Mike and I had one before kids.  It was great.  We'd straighten up for 10 minutes the day she was due to arrive.  And the house would look pretty much the same until the next time she came.

But once the diapers, wipes, baby toys, baby blankets, Barbies, Tonkas, Fischer-Price, Bratz Dolls, Silly Bandz, Nerf Guns and 40,000 slips of paper from their respective schools came along... it seemed kind of a waste to spend half a day picking up before a cleaning woman came, only to have the place look like somebody detonated a garbage bomb two hours later.
Mushroom cloud formation from the garbage explosion (1204-175 / cans in prog2a © Mike Agliolo)
I've tried to get the kids to be more organized.  I've tried to enforce rules like, "Hang up your coat," "Don't leave your shoes in the middle of the floor," "Do put your plates in the dishwasher," "Don't leave a half-eaten ice pop that you stuck in a cup on the coffee table for three hours," "Do use a napkin when you eat frozen blueberries with your hands while watching TV because the carpet actually is NOT a napkin."

Of course, there are many more do's and don'ts that I dish out on an hourly basis, but you all have lives....

What really gets me is when my alleged "friends" on Facebook post that their pre-tweens cleaned all kinds of stuff "without even being asked."  Good.  Open a kid cleaning school.  I'll enroll my two tomorrow.

Before anybody starts sending me ideas on how to get my kids to happily, or unhappily for all I care, pitch in, I've tried it all.

--Praise.   I've used this when they've helped without my asking.  Such as, "It's so great when you clean your dirty tissues off the dining room table.  It's helpful things like that that make me happy and less revolted as I go about my day."

--Chore money.  I've paid up.  Ohhhh, I've paid.  Dearly.  But even when I've paid the money, the kids eventually decide no amount of money is worth doing chores, even though they're risking a total wigging out rant.  (See next item).

--Rants.  These aren't fun for anyone.  Particularly my neighbors.  These tirades can last anywhere from two minutes to two angry hours, depending on my energy level and the amount of back talking and ratting out Cara and Ryan pile on.

--Chore sheets.  My sister successfully wrote one of these up for her kids.  My therapist seconded the idea.  So,  I wrote one up with Daily, Weekly and "Whenever I Ask" chores plotted out for each kid. I showed them.  I explained the importance of it.  I posted it inside a kitchen cabinet regularly visited by everyone.   One month later:

Cara, sitting across the kitchen from said cabinet: "What's that white sheet of paper taped inside that cabinet?"

Me: "Really?  It's the CHORE CHART you're supposed to be following."

Cara: "Ohhhh....  huh..."  ...She then retreated from conversation while sitting right in front of me.

So now, it comes down to bribing situations.  But we're from Jersey, so it doesn't even really feel like a bribe. It feels like what's right.  Things like, "Sure you can have friends over" or "Sure, I'll take you to the mall," or "Yeah, I'll bring you to Game Stop" BUT "You have to help with cleaning up around here."

Of course, the kids react like duly indignant Hudson County politicians.  But like those back room heroes, they inevitably realize that in order to get their way, they have to grease the palm, or clean the kitchen.  Whichever.

Everybody has their bitter pill to swallow.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ho, Ho, Ho NO!

One of my friends told me a week ago that it had been three weeks since I wrote a blog.  In my defense, this is supposed to be a humor blog.  And I guess I JUST WASN'T FEELING VERY HUMOROUS!

For example, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, while I was knee-deep in strings of lights, tubs of Christmas decorations and raw hostility toward all things living, Mike asked, "So, I guess you don't know the Jets won."

Me: "I didn't even know the Jets started playing!  This is crazy!!"

Crazy was trying to do Christmas decorating in what turned out to be "on my own."  It wasn't supposed to be that way.  Of course.  After all, it was Cara's idea to lug the eight or nine monster tubs out of the garage to get the decorating under way first thing that a.m.

Me: "Really, Cara?  I'm trying to beat this cold before it seriously kicks in.... You have a tennis lesson.  I wanted to go to Zumba...."

Cara: "Well, I want to have friends over for a holiday party on Friday night.  And I'm busy with school stuff all week."

Translation: I would be stuck doing it on my own if she and I didn't start the process last Sunday.  But lo-and-behold, her homework struck right before the first lid was pulled from the tub -- a semi-legitimate excuse.  It was also when Ryan needed to see a friend down the street -- a completely illegitimate excuse, but he's barely helpful so I let him go.  And Mike needed to watch football for work--which was actually legitimate, so I never even tried to get his help.

And that's when I came down with a bad case of, "This sucks!"

Last year, both kids actually helped.  We did the lights, the tree, the little village all together.  With holiday music playing.  And only six to ten fights.

But this year, I was attempting to do a whole-house holiday transformation just one week after we hosted Thanksgiving for my family.  And THAT effort required a major house transformation, mostly involving bulldozing crap from one floor to another, giving the false impression that our home is "cared for" by people with organizational skills, a fierce cleaning regimen and a modicum of pride.

But here I am, posting a new blog.  So you might be tempted to think the pressure's off and now I'm chillin' out with my feet up and a Santa hat on my head -- much like your co-worker this afternoon after his two-bowls of holiday cheer at lunch.  But you'd be wrong.

I'm just ignoring things like, oh I dunno, CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!  Yes, I've managed to ignore the malls, the 40,000 email "deals" that came to my inbox, my phone and my Facebook page, not to mention the beautiful catalogs that have arrived in my oldey fashionedy mailbox outside.  Which reminds me I haven't yet considered a greeting card theme, never mind made and mailed any actual cards.

I write about retail for a living, so you'd think I'd be more on top of this.  But I think I've reached the point where I now expect the magic of Macy's to cover buying, wrapping and delivering all the gifts under my tree without any involvement on my part.

So, without further ado, I present a much belated blog.  Not, I hope, to be paired with much belated presents...