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In a family full of nuts, the acorns fall awfully close to that tree…

I’m not very popular today. My kids are all mad at me. All three of them are grounded – no TV, no Wii, no friends, no (gasp!) iTouch. There’s a list of chores on the table, and no one is doing anything fun until the chores are completed. I am now The Meanest Mom In The World.
 
Which is ok with me. My job is not to be popular or to be my kid’s best friend. My job is to parent.
 
I don’t think I expect too much. I expect a lot, but it’s within reason. We give our kids age-appropriate responsibilities (and freedoms), we don’t hover, we don’t choose for them, we allow them to make mistakes. We don’t bring them forgotten lunches or homework or soccer shoes. We are raising our kids to be responsible, well-adjusted adults. We expect them to take care of their own stuff and clean up their own messes – we don’t do it for them – because some day their bosses will expect the same.
 
But here’s the challenge. My kids are all like absentminded professors. Crazy smart. Wee bit scattered. They can read years above grade level…but they can’t find their shoes that are sitting on the floor in front of them. They can do insanely difficult math problems in their heads…but they can’t remember to flush. They can discuss world history and ask the kinds of questions that make you think what on Earth made you think of THAT?…but they can’t remember what they are supposed to be doing, even with multiple reminders.
 
Some days, I’m patient. Most days, I keep my cool. But not yesterday.
 
It was our designated library day – because we have to go to the library on the same day every week, otherwise we end up owing enough money in late fines to open our own library – so when they came home from school, I had presented them with the list of library books to find and return. An hour and a half later, they’re all still walking around the house like lost puppies, still lacking all the library books, but still somehow finding the time for a quick peek at a TV show, a game of Angry Birds, and a perusal of an intriguing book.
 
We didn’t make it inside the library yesterday.
 
As we were driving to church later that night, one certain child asked to use my Bible iPhone app to finish his homework for his Bible study group.
 
“I have nothing to say to that,” I replied. “You know what I want to say.”
 
The same words I find myself repeating every Wednesday afternoon. “It’s on your list. You are supposed to work on your homework every afternoon. I shouldn’t have to remind you. It’s on your list.”
 
The list is apparently worthless. Lists don’t do much good if you don’t do what they say. Looking at the list doesn’t cut it. Neither does checking off something that you didn’t actually accomplish.
 
But watching TV and playing Wii and texting on the iTouch? Those we have time for. 
 
Or at least, we used to. Not this week. The scatterbrainedness has got to stop. Focus must begin.
 
Without focus, we have only forgotten lunches, incomplete homework, unpracticed piano music, unmade beds, misplaced shoes.
 
And hypothetically, a flooded utility room. 
 
Hypothetically.
 
I hate to admit it, but my wandering puppies come by their scatterbrainedness honestly. I have been known to be somewhat…um, forgetful. And a wee bit spacey. 
 
Exhibit A: When I was in college, my roommates and I went to Holly’s home for the weekend, and we were watching the Miss America pageant. Or Miss USA. Whatever. It was long enough ago that the show was still aired on network television and Kathie Lee Gifford was one of the hosts. Apparently my roommates had an in depth discussion about Kathie Lee’s varied wardrobe selections and her recent transition into her next evening gown, and when they finished, little ol’ me, having not registered a single word of the conversation, piped up, “Oh! Kathie Lee changed her dress!”
 
Yeah. They had a good laugh over that one. They still do.
 
Exhibit B: We were driving to Michael’s 20th high school reunion a few weeks ago, and I was texting with my friend, Beth – who also has a couple of spaced-out brainiacs – and we were commiserating and sharing funny stories about our stupid-smart kids. (Let me clarify: Michael was driving. I was texting. Please don’t text and drive. Thank you.) In the middle of this texting conversation, I realized something. I had been unpacking boxes five minutes before we left the house, and somehow I managed to walk out the door without my hairdryer. And my flat iron. And my hairspray. And every last piece of makeup. It was all still in my bathroom drawer.
 
It only took me an hour & a half to realize that little fact.
 
But on the upside, I got to take a trip to the Smalltown, Texas Walmart at 9:00 p.m., and I texted Beth the play-by-play. She hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time. Nothing like Smalltown Walmart at 9:00 p.m. to give one a healthy dose of entertainment.
 
That’s all I’m going to say about that.
 
And, of course, Exhibit C: I flooded our new house. Our brand-new, perfect, gorgeous, unadulterated home. 
 
I needed to thaw out a meal for dinner, and since I didn’t remember until 2:00 that I hadn’t taken anything out of the freezer, I did what I’ve always done: I filled up the sink with water, into which I would place the ziploc bags of chicken and sauce.
 
Except that in our other houses, I would fill up one half of the divided kitchen sink. Now I have a utility sink. A single, very deep, very large utility sink that takes a very long time to fill with water. And it doesn’t have an overflow drain. And I had to pee. So I plugged up the sink, turned on the faucet, and left the room with every intention of returning.
 
Now, in my defense, I had a lot on my mind and a lot of things to do. My mother-in-law was visiting. I have a house to run. And dinner to make. And three little people to keep alive. And bon-bons to eat.
 
So after my potty break, I wandered into the kitchen to make a sandwich. I sat down and ate my lunch while enjoying a nice chat with Michael’s mom. After about 20 minutes or so, I hear an odd sound. Huh, I think, that’s weird. Why do I hear water running? I’m not washing clothes…the sprinklers aren’t on…
 
Then it hit me.
 
I sprang from my chair and ran down the hall to find water spilling from the laundry room, down the hallway, creeping toward my very beautiful, very expensive wood floors.
 
Crap.
 
For better or worse, I’ve had some experience with water. I’ve been there, done that, should have gotten much more than a T-shirt. So while I was alarmed and slightly panicked, I managed to avoid a total freakout. After turning off the faucet and unplugging the drain, I grabbed as many towels as I could and gave them to Sara to block the wood floors and the carpet to my craft room, then I grabbed a broom and started sweeping the water toward the drain in the floor.
 
(Yes, that drain. The same one that we had drawn into the plans after the Water Events of 2009…May and July)
 
Then I remembered. Shop Vac. We have a Shop Vac. It worked beautifully the last time.
 
(The last time. Jeeeez. I can’t believe this is happening AGAIN.)
 
So I ran out to the garage, grabbed the Shop Vac, and began sucking up all that blasted water that was threatening to ruin my brand-new, gorgeous, previously unadulterated home.
 
After drying out the utility room, the pantry, the closet, the hallway, and the front of the mudroom, it was time to move on to the craft room, which now had wet carpet. Just a little wet. Mostly by the doorway. But I remembered that a little bit of water in foam padding makes a big mess. But, again, I knew what to do. I pulled back the carpet, soaked up the water and ripped out the padding. Then I found a couple of boxes/baskets/plastic totes to prop up the carpet, an oscillating fan to stick under the newly created carpet cave, and a big glass of wine.
 
Kidding. I waited until after I picked up the kids.


In hindsight, I would have done two things differently. First, I would have changed the house plans and put that drain in the middle of the floor instead of under the washing machine. The waterfall coming from the sink went right past it. Secondly, I would have pulled up the carpet before dealing with the water on the sealed, perfectly waterproof porcelain tile. That one small step could have saved the carpet entirely.
 
But whatever. Towards the end of what is heretofore known as Water Event 2011, my friend Caroline texted me to see if I was in the elementary school carline yet. We have this nasty little habit of texting each other as we sit in this excruciatingly slow carline, waiting to pick up our sons (again, not driving), and we have a nastier little habit of making fun of all the luxury cars around us with the ridiculous stick figures of Mickey Mouse hat-wearing families plastered on their rear windows. But we don’t speak of it publicly because of the very real fear of stepping on toes and losing all of our friends.
 
Which I may have just done.
 
Anyway. She’s texting me about Escalades and car stickers, and I briefly fill her in on Water Event 2011, then as an afterthought, I ask her if she has a box fan that I could borrow.
 
Oh my. She not only has a fan. She has the most sturdy, heavy, powerful, awesome fan EVER.
 
I now have fan envy.
 
Caroline’s fan dried my carpet in less than 24 hours. I may consider trading one of my kids for a fan like this.
 
Not really. But speaking of kids…
 
Didn’t I start this post by telling you how mad my kids were, and how frustrated I was with their absentmindedness and lack of focus? Before my own stream of consciousness and lack of focus led me to discuss box fans? Those apples sure do land pretty darn close to the tree, don’t they? So do the nuts.
 
Really. I can’t get too mad at them. Pot, meet Kettle.
 
So as I was pounding out this post, I noticed that it was very quiet upstairs. As soon as I had presented the huge list of chores, along with a side dish of “there’s no way you’re going to finish all of this today,” they took the list into the other room and gathered ‘round. I heard Meghan say, “OK guys, here’s what we need to do…”
 
The next thing I know, I hear the sweet hum of a vacuum.
 
And can I just tell you? THEY FINISHED THE ENTIRE LIST IN AN HOUR AND A HALF! (Oddly the exact amount of time they spent the previous day wandering around like puppies.) They scrubbed toilets, they picked up all the books and Legos and toys, they made their beds, they wiped down their bathrooms. It was amazing. They told Michael that they took it as a challenge when I told them they couldn’t do it in one day. “We’ll show her!” was their battle cry. Which goes to prove that reverse psychology can indeed work on accident.
 
But wait. There’s more. They had so much fun, they ASKED ME IF THEY COULD DO CHORES EVERY WEEK.
 
I’m not kidding. Really. I’m not. They want to clean. And – get this – they want to do it together.
 
Allrightythen. Chores it is!


Not only that, but I have been restored to my position as Cool Mom. They like me again. Even if they’d never admit it, I think they liked the challenge, and they liked being given a big responsibility. They are proud of meeting my high expectations. (Which kinda reminds me of this.)
 
Get ready, folks. I think we have officially entered The End Times. 
 
Hopefully I’ll remember to pack my makeup before the Battle of Armageddon.
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2 thoughts on “In a family full of nuts, the acorns fall awfully close to that tree…

  1. We like your parenting skills … our kids would be very comfortable in your home since they're learning to abide by those same rules. It'll make for a much better adulthood, I'm sure. In the meantime, we have days and weeks just like yours. But it sounds like you won … any time kids ask for chores it's a tally for mom.And can I just say? I honestly cannot believe that you had ANOTHER water situation. Do you know that I never turn my washing machine on without thinking of you? 🙂

  2. Okay. YOU are ME. And YOUR KIDS are MY KIDS. (Except for the parenting skillz. You win.)I'm glad you're alive. Clearly, you have a very restrained husband. Mine woulda' killed me if I flooded the house twice.

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