It was the grey dress shoes that did it.
There they sat… right near the garage door, after I told my 12-year-old girl to put them back up in her closet six days ago and reminded her every day since. We pass those shoes about a dozen times each hour… coming and going to the car.
For SIX days I have been telling her to put those shoes AWAY.
I looked at them for the 13,435 time and cracked open the dam that poured out those raging waters, flooding the house with my ultimatum to both children.
“That’s IT. I have had enough of you guys leaving all your stuff all over the house! I tell you over and OVER and OVER again to put your things away! And while I’m on a roll, how many times do I have to tell you to clear your plates? Wash your hands? Do your chores? HELLO!! Stop staring at the T.V. and LOOK AT ME!!”
They jolt their heads up at me, with that startled ‘mom is on a roll’ face.
I paced the hallway, and began mumbling loud enough for them to hear my little litany of complaints and how I must do something to get it through their thick skulls that they need to play by the rules of our home or else…
And then it happened. That moment when you realize that anything you say will have no impact on their little sweet minds, because they are completely clueless. They don’t get the severity of their crimes, they don’t know how many cups I have cleared or shoes I have stacked in the cubbies. They have no idea just how many times I have picked up after them. Surely these are tiny misdemeanors to them that never add up to major offenses… but they are about to get the charges set on them and the punishment will surely fit the crime!
“I’ve got it! Oh, do I have a plan. A plan that will be sorely consequential to you!! Oh yeah baby, this is good!”
They perked up with that dreaded fear that their mom has officially: Lost. It. But what really happened, is I found my creative parenting mojo in the rushing waves of frustration.
“Guess what’s gonna happen?”
They continued to stare at me with complete confusion, waiting out this rampage, knowing that when I get to this point, there is going to be something big at the end of it all…
“There will come a day, and I’m not gonna tell you when it’s going to happen… you will wake up and find that I will have turned into YOU. Oh it’s gonna be good. And guess what? You will have to be ME!! “Switch It” day is a comin’ kids!! It will sneak up on your innocent lives and soon you will truly get a taste of what it is like to be on MY end of this parenting gig.”
“What? No MOM!! That’s not fair!!”
“Oh, surely it is!! It’s the best discipline I’ve come up with for a long time!! I will leave a trail behind me everywhere I go. I will stare at my computer screen and not lift an eyeball when you talk to me. I will whine and moan and not do anything you tell me to do, even after three, four or five times. And when you finally get my attention, I’ll respond like you always do, with a “Oh, yeah. I was gonna do that, mom.” Or my favorite, “Okay mom.”- without a hint of action. After I respond to your requests, I will go back to playing on my phone or watching that tv show. I hope you’re ready to do the dishes, pick up the plates and get on that laundry! And just to warn you, I’ll be getting hungry on the hour. I get to PLAY all DAY, and leave my stuff everywhere, while you scurry around the house and keep it in order, mkay? It’s gonna be sooo fun!!”
They perk up- “Wait, she will have to do our chores! This will be great!”
I retort- “Oh you silly soul… I’m smarter than that! I will surely pick a Tuesday or Thursday to be YOU. No chores on those days…But you can make me read, that I’ll do.”
Then of course the begging begins- “Come on mom! That’s not fair!! Please don’t! We’ll do better!”
Confirmation, affirmation, proclamation– “Sorry kids… the day is comin’…It’s too late for you.”
And the day hasn’t come, just yet. Well, with all the things going on, I had to be mom through spring and well into our third week of summer. But as I look at a plate sitting on the table right now, I wonder if it’s time.
My kids haven’t forgotten this threat, this master plan of The Switch. Just last week, my daughter and I were in the car driving to swim team practice and she said out of the blue, “You’re not going to really do that, right mom?” I had no idea what she was talking about.
“Do what honey?”
“Oh yes, my love. On any given day… you just wait. It’s a comin’!!”
“Please don’t mom!! Please!!”
They’re still haunted by my plan.
I’ve played this one well.
Now which Tuesday or Thursday will I choose?