Since our daughter (aka The Middle Child) travels for work 4 days a week, our 8 year old grandson E stays with us when his Mom is out of town. It’s a double edged sword: love having the opportunity to spend this kind of time with him; bummed that the situation calls for structure to make things consistent for him, which means I can’t be the Barrels O’ Fun Grandma that he’s become accustomed to all the time. Now we tackle homework, expose him to vegetables that he doesn’t want to be introduced to, and put standard litanies on auto-play: “Please take your plate to the kitchen”, “Hang up your towel”, “Did you brush your teeth?”, “No TV until reading time is done”, and the most frequent phrase “I didn’t hear you flush.”
In the spirit of keeping life consistent for young E, I gave him chores to do on Saturday.
Me: E, it’s time we all get our chores done. You’re going to dust in the living room, and vacuum your bedroom.
E: What do you mean, vacuum? I don’t know how to do that. My Mom does that at our house.
Me: Well, we’ll teach you how to do it.
E: I don’t want to learn.
Me: Well, you can either have fun with it, or not, but you’re going to do it.
E: I don’t think I’m supposed to. How long is all this going to take?
Me: If you get to work, about 30 minutes.
E: 30 minutes? How about 10?
Me: How about more rooms to clean?
E: OK, I’ll dust first.
Hubby: Where’s E?
Me: Huh? I thought he was dusting in the living room?
10:11 a.m., E is discovered laying on the couch, having dusted about 2 square inches of the entertainment center.
Me: What are you doing, buddy?
E: My stomach hurts. I can’t bend.
Me: Really? You’re going to pull the stomach ache routine? Not going to work, buddy.
E: This happens all the time! Once I was running and my stomach started hurting and I had to sit down. You can ask my Mom!
Me: OK. Off to bed with you then. You can finish when you feel better.
10:40 a.m., E stumbles out of his room.
E: I guess. Do I have to finish?
Me: Of course you have to finish.
E: I don’t want to. It’s Saturday. I want to play with my DS.
Me: Too bad, Monkey. You know, when your Mom was your age, she had more chores to do than this, and she turned out OK.
E: She would have turned out better if she didn’t have to do all this cleaning stuff.
12:30 p.m. – Hubby has finished cleaning the carpets (see previous post about Pickle’s little root beer adventure), I’ve scrubbed the toilets, done E’s laundry, washed windows, and did the Lime Away thing on the faucets and shower heads. E is about halfway through dusting one room.
1:30 p.m. – Finally, E has completed his chores properly. I’m exhausted not from the housework, but from the endless encouragement and guidance. I had forgotten what hard work it is to develop all those highly sought after character traits in little people. I need a freakin’ nap.
Next week, I think I’ll put him on Dog Poop Duty in the yard. That should pretty much guarantee a new enthusiasm for dusting and vacuuming.