I think we can all agree that the single most fun day a family can celebrate together is Cleaning Day.
Just listen to the shouts of joy from the kids! (Teenagers shouts of joy sound strangely similar to whines and moans.)
Yes, we (and by “we” I mean my wife and I) decided we (and by “we” I mean “my wife and I and the kids even if they came kicking and screaming”) were all going to knock out some housekeeping. My wife and I dutifully informed the kids that they both had a few chores they were going to have to take care of. We informed them of this when we were in a moving car so they had no escape and would have to listen to what their tasks would be.
The chores were fairly simple. Granted, based on their reaction, I think it’s a pretty good thing my kids weren’t born into Little House on the Prairie.
My daughter is 16, and we let her have as much privacy as possible in her room. And as long as the door can shut, we don’t really care too much what her room looks like. But every so often, we are greeted with two options: Good ol’ cleaning overhaul or we cut that section out of the house, move it safely away, and burn it.
She set off on her room cleaning initiative with minimal grumbling. I clean at a rather frenzied pace, so I decided I would let my daughter clean without being near her as she cleans at the speed of a very tired sloth, and it probably wouldn’t be very productive if I kept saying, “CLEAN FASTER!!!”
I did offer to assist by taking down any cups she had in her room. Fun fact: A teenage girl’s room can house well over 1,000 half-full Tervis tumblers.
Our son’s assigned chore was very specifically geared toward him: Clean up the giant tackle box that our front porch had become.
He is an avid fisherman, and he spends as much time when he’s at home at the ponds near our house. He keeps a lot of his fishing gear right at the front door so he can grab his stuff on the go.
Unfortunately, over time the gear gets rather spread out, often occupying the table and chairs on our front porch. My son doesn’t quite get the need for organizing something such as fishing gear on your front porch. He also doesn’t get the need for shoes, showers, shirts or eating off a plate. (We do hope one day to fully domesticate him.)
His first attempt to get out of the chore was to tell me that his tackle box was broken. I pointed at the very much not broken tackle box sitting amidst the lures and hooks and such. He informed me that was his saltwater tackle box. Oh, silly me. How foolish not to know.
Then, in what can only be described as a brilliant Jedi mind trick, we soon found ourselves at the store, picking out a new tackle box for his freshwater stuff. And a new rod. And some bobbers.
Oh, wait it can be described as something else: I’m a sucker.
In short order, he had his new tackle box organized, and the front porch looked far more orderly. He was off fishing in no time. (For what it’s worth, I am sure the order will be maintained for, oh, let’s give it two hours.)
So their onerous workday complete, both kids were able to resume their life of leisure and get back to doing the thing they love most: Not having to clean. Ma and Pa Ingalls would be so proud of their efforts.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.