It was a day like many others. Our tale begins with a simple request: Please clean up the play room. Back up though. I have been cleaning up after the girls for the past week with no nagging. Not once did I ask them to pick up after themselves. I wanted to try the "monkey see, monkey do" approach. I thought maybe they would begin to notice that things magically got themselves cleaned up and have a desire to keep it that way. Wishful thinking, I know. A couple of times one or the other would walk in during one of my straightening sessions and wonder what I was doing. They would lend a hand and throw a couple of toys into a bin or something, but that was the extent of it.
So today I had one simple request. Straighten the playroom. It wasn't that messy. I took the toys from my room, the hall, and their bedroom and tossed them in. You are responsible for this one room, I said. I set the timer for 20 minutes and asked them to get to work. I threw a threat out there too. If it wasn't done when the timer went off then they were being unplugged: No TV, No computer, No Leapster, No DS, No radio/cd's.
Let the whining begin. They all sat around whining, the whining turned to crying, crying to fighting, fighting turned to screaming and blaming and bossing. All the while the minutes ticked away. I urged them to get to work, warned them and even tried to bribe them with a "special surprise". Until, BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. The timer went off...and the room was still a mess. Without too much shouting on my part I sent them to their bedroom and told them to lay in their respective beds until I came to get them. I told them that no one was getting the "special surprise" and no one would be watching TV, Listening to music or playing with any electronics for the day. Then I proceeded to clean the playroom. It took all of 10 minutes.
Enter Jordan with a bright idea. I ordered everyone downstairs, but Jordan hung back. What are you doing? I asked. Nothing, she said. Don't think about turning the TV in my room on, I warned. I won't, she said. What are you doing then? I asked again. Jordan proceeds to tell me that she would like a second chance at the special surprise, so she was going to make an even bigger mess in the playroom and clean it up herself. I tried to tell her that there aren't any second chances. Everyone lost their chance at the "special surprise" because MOMMY had to clean the playroom.
I don't know what she was thinking. I told her not to do it. But she began dumping toy bins in the middle of the room. She tipped caddies, and emptied the toy box. In the middle of the craziness I told her to stop. No, no, she assured. She would clean it all up, all by herself. I washed my hands of it, and headed downstairs.
Poor Jordan, about one hour into the clean up I could hear crying from upstairs. I had the baby monitor on and I could hear her, berating herself. Saying how she never should have done this, how she was so stupid. At this point, I stopped her. I hate hearing my kids talk like this. You aren't stupid, Jordan. You just made one bad mistake. That doesn't make you stupid, I said. I need help, she said.
Perhaps it is cruel...but I told her I couldn't help her. She tried to cajole her sisters into helping...of course they both declined. So here she sits, in the middle of her mess. Her little belly grumbling (she missed snack):
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