This sign hung on our fridge pretty much the entire time I was growing up. I found it a home in my own kitchen both because of the emotional connection with my mom and because it’s true.
I’m not getting paid to clean up after these kids. It wasn’t so much an issue when they were itty bitty — but we are now talking about teenagers and young adults. I’m going completely mad crazy over the lack of respect, outright defiance and just total disregard for anyone’s time but their own.
How on earth did my sweet, caring, loving little angels turn into such a bunch of heathens?!
Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. They are *essentially* good kids. They don’t go running around, partying, drinking, drugging, staying out all night, raising hell and they have always brought home honorable report cards.
But they are Lazy with a capital L!
Our current “chore chart,” which is more often than not completely disregarded, doesn’t seem to be asking too much of them, Keep in mind, these are 14, 16 and 19 year-old teenagers. I know 8 year-old kids that successfully attend to more responsibilities than I’m asking of my much older children.
Our dining room functions more as a family room and less as a dining room. It is appointed with a table and chairs (on which they park their laptops and schoolbooks, a futon, bookshelves and cube shelves, a television, a Roku, a couple of gaming systems, their artsy/craftsy stuff, blah blah. It’s where they hang out and make a mess, so it makes sense that I expect it to be tidied, cleaned regularly and vacuumed by its inhabitants. Am I wrong here? I think I’m not!
It never gets done – OK, maybe not never, but definitely not ever before I finally blow my top about it. Dishes? Yes, I have the kids do the dishes. I cook. If whatever I’m making for dinner creates an excessive number of dishes, I will often wash some as I go so as to leave them with just what we actually eat dinner off of and the final piece of cookware from which it was served. Seems reasonable to me. I expect the dishes to be done sometime between when we finish dinner and they go to bed. That’s a pretty normal expectation, yes? And I’ve asserted it as the expectation more times than I can count.
Why, oh why?!
The excuse I keep hearing: “It doesn’t matter when I do them, as long as I do them eventually.”
No. Just no. It doesn’t work that way. I’ve exerted my position: letting them sit makes them dry and crusty and therefore harder to wash (ie: washing them sooner makes it *easier* for you), letting them sit around for a day or two is a red carpet invitation to insects and vermin (no one likes bugs and mouse poop in the kitchen!), and of course, the parental standby: this is just how I expect it to be done, nightly.
There’s nothing that’s going to get my morning off on the wrong foot like coming downstairs at 5:15 am to make the coffee and finding a sink and/or counter covered in dirty, crusty, smelly dishes. It sets a crappy, pissy mood from the start, interferes with my ability to think clearly, and gets in my way when it comes time to start meal preparations (which, depending on what’s planned for dinner, I sometimes like to start early in the day).
So you don’t feel like doing dishes in the evening, I’m supposed to just deal with it all day long until you get home from school and at some point decide you finally “feel like” washing them?
How about I don’t feel like driving you to school, or to work, or to the library, or to the store? How about I don’t feel like cooking your dinner, buying you new clothes, getting you that new game, signing that field trip permission slip, paying for that field trip? How about I don’t feel like having to look at and work around that nasty pile of dishes you just didn’t “feel like” doing all day long?
How about you think about all the rest of us who live here and how your choices impact our lives and moods? No, because teenagers today suck (at least mine do) when it comes to seeing themselves as part of a family unit. It’s all about me, what I want, what I want to do and when I want to do it. Maybe I need to just adopt that attitude for a while.
I swear, I didn’t think I was raising them to be self-centered, entitled little brats. I love them, dearly, but I really hope they mature to a higher order of thinking soon!