Friday, January 22, 2010

Lick & Learn

It's not always a struggle to get my kids to do the scheduled and rotating jobs every day: Ella & Meg alternate cleaning the room and emptying the dishwasher. Max and LMark alternate (on good weeks) cleaning their room and picking up the classroom.

Sometimes the work is accepted as inalienable and eternal. Other times is treated as if the concept is my way of torturing them or denying their rights as free-born citizens of the United States. Usually the latter attitude is caused by a breakup of our week by an all-day activity, be it related to church, school, or fun.

Monday and Tuesday this week were taken up by Theophany services. No parent can expect a child to clean his room after he has been in church for four hours on Monday and two hours on Tuesday. So I let them all goof around instead of setting them to work or school.

Every American Orthodox (and especially Old Calendar) home schooler knows that the days surrounding Thanksgiving, St Nicholas Day, Western Christmas, Western New Year, Orthodox Christmas Eve & Christmas, and Orthodox Theophany Eve & Theophany are hectic and disruptive to say the least. If Lent arrives early, as it does this year, we have to work at breakneck speed to finish what we need to do.

After all this, we treated Wednesday as the beginning of a new week.

But my laundry was behind, my floors were dirty and my bathrooms needed cleaning. I assigned a few jobs around to Rose and the boys, hoping we could get on top of the laundry at the very least.

Despite the labor required, the little girls accepted the bathroom assignment with gusto. They pulled out all of the chemicals, the brushes, the wipes and the paper towels. They scrubbed and wiped and made the bathroom quite nice while singing and laughing all the time.

I then told them they also needed to wipe the floor, which they weren't thrilled about. After a
few "I-can't-figure-out-how-to-do-it's" and "It's-too-hard's", we worked it out and it was all done.

After only 45 minutes they presented their clean bathroom to me.

Sometimes, if they zip through their cleaning jobs in the bathroom, I might point out their shoddy work by saying, "You know...this bathroom should be so clean that you would be willing to LICK the counter, because you are confident it is clean."

They never wanted to do it. And it inspired them to do those finishing touches to make it "lickable"--although I never required the licking. I only mentioned it.

Wednesday, Ella felt the confidence, when I asked if -- you know -- it was clean enough, to do the unthinkable:


It took a few seconds of my and Margaret's gaping at her with something between admiration and horror for her to gulp,

"UGH! Yack!"

and grope for the faucet for a drink of water.

While I really wanted to hug Ella and say I never really meant to have her lick the counter, instead I felt it necessary to be the mom and say soberly, "Let's wipe it a little better now."

And I trotted away with that lingering wonder at why God ever let me be a mom.