Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Child Labor

At some point in the future, I would like to think that my boys will eventually move out and be able to survive for more than a couple days by themselves. Judging by their current lack of self-sufficiency, though, it's difficult for me to imagine anything besides them wandering around aimlessly, wondering what to do about the dirty laundry that is piling up, the scum on the toilet, and the sensation of hunger that just doesn't seem to go away no matter how many times they think about food.

I will be the first to admit that my almost-a-control freak personality, lack of patience, and high expectations don't help the situation. I know that there are simple chores that they should be expected to do without me having to ask, but for me, having to watch someone else do a crappy job cleaning a bathroom or washing a pan in a weird way is a painful, anxiety-inducing experience.

They're good about cleaning up their own dishes and keeping their rooms clean, but I figured it was time to start expecting more. So, after I pulled a load of towels out of the dryer, I plopped the basket on the floor and asked Charlie to fold them. This seemed like the perfect job because since they're just towels, I could have cared less how they were folded. Really. It doesn't matter. Just fold them any old way. After all, no one is going to come bursting through the door to check how the towels are folded, so who cares how they're folded? Not me, that's for sure.

Okay, the truth is that all of the towels in this particular load just get hung up on hooks anyway, so they don't even need to be folded. I am actually really picky about how the towels are folded before they go on shelves, but there's no way in hell I'd expect my kid to understand why this is important to me. After all, I don't even understand.

Charlie was watching football and perfecting his half-sitting/half-laying down posture on the couch, and when I asked him to fold the towels he looked at me like I had obviously been smoking something. He eventually managed to rise from the couch, approach the basket, and then attempted to fold the towels while using body language that said, "I regret having the use of my arms."

Meanwhile, I sat on the couch and tried to ignore the beads of sweat that were forming along my hairline. It wasn't the fact that a blind person using only his feet would have done a better job, it was the way he was acting. It was like I said: "Hey Charlie. Do me a favor and walk two miles to the chicken coop, grab a chicken, hack off its head, pull out the feathers, take out the guts, and make me some soup. And while the soup is simmering, fold these towels."

After I watched him for a minute or so I couldn't stand it, so I started laughing. I had to laugh, otherwise I would have looked like a crazy person having a fit of anger over towels. I ended up just folding the things myself before I hauled them upstairs and hung them on the hooks where they belonged. Yes, I could have just done this to begin with and avoided this whole confrontation, but then Charlie would have missed out on learning the valuable lesson of: If I do a crappy job and complain enough, then mom will just laugh at me for a little while and eventually just do the job herself, and probably never ask me to do that job ever again.


Anonymous said...

Looks to me like Charlie has mastered the Graba male household chore skills attitude successfully,congrats. MOM

JSH said...

Reading this was like reading the expression of my own thoughts! Well done!

JSD said...

I thought I was alone in this.

ES said...

Folded in thirds so no edges show and then half and half...hotel style. How hard is that to do? That's what I tell my toddler...and husband, anyway.

Diane Kelly said...

The woman read my mind again. Especially love the half-sitting, half-lying down posture. Sometimes I think my boys are jellyfish. Really.