I had to stop and think for a moment. “Oh,” I remembered. It wasn’t a drunk person. I’d asked my 11-year-old son to do it.
My son can handle the sheets on his twin-sized bed. But king-sized sheets are a whole different beast. I’d started to give him a lesson the week before, but somewhere between tucking in diagonally opposite corners and folding hospital corners, we got interrupted.
He’d done the best he could with his limited training.
When I went back to work full-time three years ago, the best piece of advice I received from my working-mom friends was, “If you can afford it, hire someone to clean your house!!!!”
Not being one to ignore four exclamation points, I did.
The upside is that my house has stayed relatively clean for three years.
The downside is that my children have gotten out of chores for three years.
By the time I was 13, I was cleaning the whole house every Saturday morning. Dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing bathrooms, mopping the kitchen floor — I did it all, by myself. Oh, and I also did laundry for the whole family.
My mother had a few things going for her, which I do not.
1. I was an only child, so she was not outnumbered.
2. I inherited her neat gene.
I have tried tying chores to allowances, but my kids aren’t interested in working for less than minimum wage. They’re content to live off of birthday and Christmas money.
Simply ordering them to do chores doesn’t always work. I’m not the Great Santini, and they know it.
And, I know this is the wrong attitude, but let’s face it, it’s quicker and easier for me to do it myself.
Nonetheless, it’s high time my kids learned some basic cleaning techniques.
They’re already pretty good at washing dishes, sweeping floors and folding laundry.
They water the plants. Not often enough, but more than I do.
They walk the dog, and bathe the dog. Not often enough, but more than I do.
I don’t make them dust, because they’re violently allergic to dust mites.
They have done well with the basics, so this summer I promoted them to intermediate tasks such as dusting the walls, cleaning out closets, washing windows and scrubbing every inch of the kitchen cabinets.
This is where the Peter Principle kicked in.
It was a failure of judgment on my part to arm my son with the extendable 12-foot-long ceiling duster.
There were more kitchen cabinets than there were Magic Erasers.
And only six of the 27 windows in the house got washed before I could no longer take the whining, threw up my hands in despair and sent everybody outside.
3. My mother had another thing going for her. She had a higher tolerance for eye-rolling.