What did those kids do to that nice lady?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Losing My Marbles...

When I was a kid and long summer days loomed ahead of my siblings and me, we would stumble downstairs in the morning, the house emptied of parental figures who were off to work, and find a daily note from my mother with a cheery Good Morning followed by our list of To-Do’s for the day that needed to be completed before she got home.  Clean the bathroom, mow the lawn, vacuum the floors, dust the furniture, ect ect.  This was normal.  Expected. It wasn’t just a summer day of life, it was an every day of life.  Each night after dinner, we did the dishes.  We shoveled the walk of freshly fallen snow at 6 am on more than one occasion.  I spent many a spring and summer day with my tape player attached to my shorts listening to Kris Kross while making neat lines in the lawn with the mower. We raked leaves and took down storm windows.  For God’s sakes, we even painted our own damn house one summer.  There was no monetary reward for this.  There wasn’t an empty jar waiting to be filled with marbles for some sort of fantastical reward. We were a unit; a team.  You know what my reward was for cleaning the bathroom?  A clean bathroom.  (And in my 32 years on this planet, I have been forced to use some pretty awful bathrooms so turns out, this is a very good reward.)  

This whole Chore Chart/Marble Jar/Sticker System/ Reward  ThingaMaJiggy stresses me out. We did the Sticker System and lost the stickers.  We tried the Chore Chart and I would inevitably forget to mark down chores completed.  Then came the Marble Jar and The Offspring spent more time fighting over who got to open and close the jar and how many they each got to put in and why is Mama taking all of our marbles and shoving them into her ears?  I’ve had to admit to myself lately that maybe this whole Reward System isn’t for me.  Maybe it’s because I’m too lazy to keep up the consistency required.  Maybe it’s because I have a deeply innate issue with bribing my kids to do things that I would, yes, I’m sure complain about doing once in a while as a kid, but knew that it didn’t matter what I thought about it...I was expected to make my damn bed every morning.  It’s one of those phenomenon's that you can only experience about your parents after becoming a parent yourself: HOW DID YOU DO THAT?  How did you get us to just...DO stuff without the promise of you know...something?  

It’s just another example of this Parenting Journey that I can’t help but question my daily habits.  Do I coddle my kids too much?  Do I sometimes resist the urge to force them to put their pajamas away because oh my God it’s just easier if I go and do it myself?  Each afternoon when I pick Son up from school he tries to hand me his backpack.  Each afternoon I explain to him that it’s his and he can carry it.  Every other afternoon he finds this to be an unacceptable answer and does his best to embarrass both me and himself with his trademark Irrational Breakdown.  And I can’t help but question, as he is dragging himself behind me trying to hand me his backpack, what the fuck, dude?  It’s a backpack. You have to carry it for two blocks. THIS IS NOT A BIG DEAL.  There will be plenty of big deals in life.  Trust me.  Buck up.

So...I’m going Old School I think.  I mean, of course I’m not going to give up bribing completely...I’m not insane.  But last night, as Son was sitting naked on the living room floor, trying to explain to me that he wasn’t ready for his bath yet...I looked at him and instead of saying ‘5 marbles if you get in now!!’...I said...Dude.  What part of you thinks you have a choice right now?  Get. In. The. Tub.  And He did.

Minor victories keep us parental types motivated.  We don’t even get a sticker for doing something well.  But...I will take a glass of wine.  If anyone’s offering.


  1. Hysterical. How did it all change so much...? Way to go old school!

  2. I agree! I don't have any kids yet, but I want to go old school on them. I'm watching my nieces & nephews grow up & won't do anything unless they get a treat like a trained seal.