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When Chores Work

I’m not much for cleaning these days. I’m much for eating and sleeping and going to water aerobics with elderly women. Because I don’t feel like cleaning, I rarely make the kids do it either. When they clean, it basically means I have to clean and coax and supervise them while they whine about the difficulties inherent in being born a Thompson.

Cleaning with young kids in many ways requires more energy and time than cleaning alone. But it’s good for them and right now it does help to have those with lower centers of gravity doing the bending and picking up. I walk around pointing out things for them to put away, cheering them on and dealing with the higher items. It works out okay, keeps them off the streets…that kind of thing.

Today I had a burst of cleaning energy and the kids were made to suffer…a bit. I gave them each one room to clean and a basket of laundry to put away. For some reason, putting away laundry is the worst chore Magoo can imagine. He loathes it with a great loathing and he therefore does it as slowly as possible, not yet having gained an understanding of the principle of “if you hate it, get it over with as quickly as possible.”

Sadly, he took so long to finish his job that he missed out on his chance to play the Wii today. When I say “sadly” I mean that the news that Wii time had passed him by caused him to sob hysterically into Dan’s bosom for 5 minutes, shocked at the terrible injustice of his pathetic excuse for a life.

We finished eating dinner, had family night together, got ready for bed, read stories, said prayers and told the kids to head up to bed while I got to work matching and folding all the baby socks I’ve been washing for little “Wanda.” The kids were mesmerized, and I don’t think it was because feigned mesmerization would keep them out of bed longer.

“THEY’RE SO CUTE!”

“AND LITTLE!”

“Oh, 'cause she’s a LITTLE BABY!”

They were beside themselves, picking up the socks, feeling them and holding them up to each other. Then they started matching them and folding them. The thought crossed my mind that I should send them to bed but I was so excited to see them wanting to help that we spent the next 10 minutes cooing and chatting and folding socks. They kept bragging about how good they were at it, and I fed their egos. Honestly, it was the most fun we’d had all day, including the games of Trouble and Chutes and Ladders we’d played. (In the interest of full disclosure, I would rather scrub all the toilets in the house than play ONE of those games.) Still, it was fun. We were working together, we were laughing, and they were proud of the work they were doing.

Now if I could only figure out how to harness that good energy every time we need to get work done around the house, that would be perfect.

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