Friday, May 16, 2014

Second Favorite

My second favorite household chore
is ironing. My first being hitting my
head on the top bunk until I faint.
- Erma Bombeck
There are times in every person's life when they realize that thinking before speaking is not merely polite, it is life preserving.
The men in my life may be slow to learn some of the truths about living with women, but they do know when they have gone too far.
I was lamenting our abode and its resemblance to a fraternity house, when my darling man said, "I know you - if you really wanted to do it, it would be done."
Truer words may never have been spoken, but saying something like that to a woman on the edge (i.e. a homeschooling mother of 4, one of which is a 2 year old intent on being the next hurricane to make national news, who also teaches Sunday school, acts as husband's secretary, manages all household affairs and makes sure dogs and children alike are caught up on vaccinations) is just dangerous.
As penance I made him go to Wal-Mart in search of the ever elusive capers, skinless, boneless chicken tenders (kept in the center freezer not with all the other chicken bahahaha), and my favorite shampoo and conditioner, for which he had a picture of to make sure he had the right ones.
He asked what I wanted him to say.
"I want you to say the house looks great,"  I replied.
"Okay, the house looks great,"  he said tenatively, perched on the edge of the couch to accommodate the pile of laundry behind him. The book he was reading rested on two cereal bowls stacked on each other on the end table, the spoons tips, barely visible as they poked up from between the couch cushions. I was crawling around the living room picking up bits of toilet paper and cardboard the puppy had chewed in a frenzy.
I looked at him questioningly.
"No, really.  It looks great it's fine."
"I love you," I said. "Now, please, go to Wal-Mart."
While hubby was hunting and gathering at Wal-Mart I called the other children down.  I gave them a pep talk about Christian hospitality and stewardship while handing each child their to-do list.
The girls, being older and wiser, knew to nod complacently before slinking off to a closet with their ipods thoroughly plugging their ears to my cries.  My son, who was 9 at the time, neither had age or wisdom on his side.
"Why are you doing this to us?  The house looks fine."  the kid said.
"No, it doesn't look fine. Dishes go in the dishwasher, not under the couch. No one should step on legos to get to the toilet, and there shouldn't be a gross apple core waiting for that person when they do finally make it to the commode."  I informed this boy of mine.
"Well, you're the only one who cares what the house looks like, so maybe you should clean it."
Time stopped, I heard the closet doors open and my daughters tip-toe into the room. Even the toddler's jaw dropped.

"I mean, you seem to like it. You talk about cleaning all of the time, it's what you do.  It's, it's like your hobby is what I'm saying."  My boy's face grew from resolute to confused to concerned as he went on.  "Why are you smiling that way?"  he asked. "Are you mad?  I was only saying..."

Like it? Where had my child received that completely wrong impression?  Housework is not something I enjoy. For Pete's sake, I can't even enjoy the after-effects for more than 4 hours.
At moments like these, action is the only solution.
My husband returned a short while later bearing capers, hair products, but no frozen chicken tenders. He looked at our son, kneeling by the couch and wearing rubber gloves.  The trashcan next to him filled with rubberized apple cores, sucker sticks, wads of toilet paper, and a half eaten petrified corn dog told the tale of woe before anyone had to speak.
"Spencer, what did you say to your mother?"  his father asked. He knew that cleaning out the couch cushions was the worst of the worst, reserved for behavior so offensive no other consequence would do.
My nine year old, now showing more wisdom and age than he ever had, said, "Dad, it shouldn't be repeated."
I smiled proudly. My men were learning.


  1. Kara,

    What fun to peek into your life here and to chuckle at oh-so-familiar scenes and conversations! Grinning with you.... I'm a homeschooling mom too, by the way.

    Re your comment on my post "The Tattoo Every Parents Needs," Thank you, nice to have you here on my site. It's a handy reminder for me too, friend. Thanks for your honesty that I'm not the only one who catches herself grumbling. :)

    Jennifer Dougan

  2. Reminds me of many years ago when my widower father was visiting for a week. I was at work, my wife, Julie, was fixing supper. Julie had a whole chicken that she was cleaning up for supper. She reached inside to clean everything out and came out with a gooey hand full of "stuff". My father said, "I'm glad women like to do this sort of thing." My father was EXTREMELY glad to see me when I got home from work. I wondered why he took me outside and pointed out all the things he could help me clean up and fix. It wasn't until after he left a few days later that Julie told me what she had replied. Dad did stay busy for those few days while I was at work.

  3. "Dad, it shouldn't be repeated." Lesson learned indeed. Such a fun glimpse of real life : ) Have a great week!