Friday, January 7, 2011

Parenting...the biggest chore of all

My daughter speaks:

“I will empty the entire dishwasher,” she says to her younger brother—in the same “And just before God napped on Day Seven, He created Me” tone most of us reserve for to-dos like touching up the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel—“But only if you take out all the garbage.”

My son responds, “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…”, as though we’d asked him to clean my office or pop a boil in my armpit without using his hands or tools. For emphasis, his shoulders, arms, back and legs immediately morph into a wet paste, and a reluctant blob slimes its way into the kitchen.

These high-powered negotiations are de rigueur around our home. I suppose, as parents, we should be more understanding; after all, besides being the ones paying for absolutely everything, we have the gall to carve a merciless 15 minutes into their quality draped-over-a-chair time (and, in the process, allow them to fall 150 texts or so behind). I also suppose I should be able to throw a 95-mph fastball, understand why there’s even one iota of appeal in shows like Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, or fix something…anything. But I cannot, so I settle. I act like a raving bitch.

True, it’s not our children’s fault they were born to parents who—horror of fuckity-fuck horrors—expect them to carry their weight (or at least a portion of it, from the kitchen to the garage). But it’s also not entirely our fault they developed an absurd sense of entitlement that allows them to say, in all sincerity, “But I mowed the lawn twice last year.”

I’ll take some of the blame, but most of it I’ll lay squarely at the feet of those parents who present chores as an option rather than an expectation. If you’ve ever said (or nodded at) the expression, “Let them be children—they’ll grow up fast enough,” watch your back.

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