See that picture to the right of the bowl in the sink? It is being placed there, unrinsed, for approximately the 334th time this year. And I have reminded my son approximately twice that amount (perhaps more) as a result of his selective hearing and memory. And yet, here this bowl sits…the milk hardening as we speak and the Rice Krispies sticking to the sides better than any superglued objects could adhere to solid surfaces.
This is not an isolated event at driving me slowly insane. No, my kids are planning a well-camouflaged attack against me through small gestures of annoyance. To the naked eye it would seem that these are just little instances of forgetfulness. But I’m wise to their sinisterness. In a 30 second moment this morning, I stepped over shoes left in the living room, pried a popsicle stick off the table, turned off a vacant bedroom light, and put the lid back on the nail polish remover that was teetering precariously on the bathroom sink – all after they had already left for school.
I’m telling you, first me….and then the world. Their plan is to have me pulling my hair out after suffering repeat-nag-itis, running for the hills while screaming incomprehensible orders over and over just to hear myself speak. Why else would they continuously leave their backpacks in the middle of the floor when I have asked them repeatedly to pick them up and put them in their rooms? What other explanation is there for the seat being left up on the toilet despite my daily reminder that the cat does not need encouragement in his fascination with fishing in the bowl? What exactly explains the reasoning behind leaving an empty carton of milk in the refrigerator, a vacant box of Creamsicles in the freezer, and a box of cereal left open on the counter so that it will stale that much faster?
But before they have me taken away by men in white jackets, they are meticulously training me to do their bidding through brainwashing. That is the only thing I can come up with that causes me to absentmindedly do everything for them – only to complain about the fact after I have already taken care of the offense. They have me believing that they can’t do it as well as I can, and that I will actually be judged for my messy house by others who happen to come to my door if I don’t just do it for them. They actually have hypnotized me into thinking that I am a BAD MOTHER if I leave the Popsicle stick to mold itself to the counter for them to pry off themselves, the lid open to the toilet so that they can clean the kitty litter footprints the cat leaves around the bowl, and allow the cereal to stale without offering to buy them anymore.
I think the ruse children put over their parents’ eyes comes in the handbook they receive upon birth. Rule #37, Section 17: Thou shall drive thy parents batty by ignoring repeated requests to pick up after thyself, thus seeing how long it will take for thou to train thy parents into doing thy bidding for thou. I vaguely remember my own mother muttering words of contempt (that we all learned how to tune out) as she did the very task she was wishing we had thought of ourselves to take care of without being asked or told to perform. We actually trained her so well that we even pointed out, as she continued to angrily scrub at the dishes we had left in the sink, if she had just asked us to do such and such chore, we’d be happy to oblige. And we’d be left scot-free as she finished the chore, telling us she shouldn’t have to ask us to do something that needed attendance so obviously.
As if overnight we’d become thoughtful creatures who took it upon ourselves to help out by cleaning up after ourselves.
Of course, my kids are much worse than my sisters and I were to my mother. And they are deft in their steps towards world dominance that has me continuing to pick up after them while they laze around on their sorry butts, watching movies or playing on the computer as I slave away muttering words of contempt. It wasn’t until this weekend when Mr. W, who must be part wizard, broke a bit of the spell. He listened as I complained about the gluey mess left in my sink day after day by my conspiring son as he let out a sinister cackle, rubbing his hands together shiftily, thinking of new ways to zing me.
“Why don’t you just leave the bowl in the sink unrinsed, and then make your son clean it afterwards?”
Brilliant that man is, I tell you. And I couldn’t help but smile at his cleverness as I wiped up some spilled Rice Krispies off the floor, placed my children’s shoes in their rooms, and wiped off my cat’s wet paws. If I leave the milk and the Rice Krispies to cement themselves to the unrinsed bowl and then make my son clean it, my son will see how hard it is to clean. He will then realize the importance of rinsing the cereal out when he is done eating. He may even think to put it in the dishwasher once it is rinsed.
I think I’m on to something here.