Saturday, December 12, 2009

Chore Charts

I know there are a lot of households that operate smoothly with chore charts for the kids, and the chores range from the basics (breathe oxygen) to the extravagant (shingle the roof). I've seen a chart that consists of different lists for morning and evening, each broken down into subsections. Each of the four daughters has a list of simple chores, including: get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, sort hair ribbons, throw daddy's newspaper away, and push in chairs. Although there is a noticeable absence of chores for dad (he can't throw his own newspaper away?), there is a daily chore listed for mom: clean up baby. Did someone really need to include "clean up baby" on a list?

In order to maintain some of my sanity, I actually find it easier to not maintain a chore chart and instead hand out jobs as needed. If I want one of the boys to take the garbage out, I usually just have to ask about seven times and voila! The garbage disappears! They still pretty much suck at putting a new bag into the can, though, so I just do that part myself, because I hate it when there is a ton of air trapped between the bag and the can, leaving just enough space to throw away a gum wrapper and coffee grounds. I know that you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Doug often accuses me of doing way too much for everyone, and he's absolutely right. Due to my complete absence of patience, tendency to be picky, and not-quite-a-control freak personality, I find it extremely difficult to justify taking the time to get someone's attention, politely ask them to do a chore, explain how to do the chore, not-so-politely demand that they do the chore, ignore the fact that they sighed and rolled their eyes, and then watch them do the chore half-assedly. It's much easier for me to skip this painful process, do the stupid task, and deal with a little resentment.

The one thing that I do expect on a daily basis is for someone to set the table. By "set," I mean going through the long ordeal of putting a few forks and napkins on the island. This task gets completed without my asking about three nights out of seven. I know, it's impressive. Last night, after he wandered into the kitchen and plunked down the forks, I told Charlie to go tell his sister, who was upstairs playing in her room, that dinner was ready. While standing two feet away from me, he started hollering: "Hey Zoe! Dinner's ready! Come eat!"

"Excuse me, mutation in the gene pool. I could have done that myself! I told you to go up there and tell her, not alert the entire neighborhood!" Honestly, did I need to explain to him that he should actually put one foot in front of the other, climb the stairs, open her door and, using his inside voice, inform the girl that she could come eat dinner? Apparently, yes.

I like to believe that his inability to figure out how to do this simple chore is a direct result of my coddling and failure to raise a kid with common sense, not because the chore wasn't written down on a list. It might also have something to do with the fact that I used to do the same exact thing when I was a kid.

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