Category: Kids

Chores

Listen here. There are days where I will do the chores that I’ve delegated to the older two kids. Usually days where they’ve got alot of homework or some other pressing thing to do. I’ll give them a break on holidays and birthdays. Even some weekends I’ll cut them some slack and do the chores. But when they do something they know I don’t like, then they gotta pay the price for it. Or even better; when they don’t do something I’ve told them to do.

Now, I understand that kids will forget to do something, and I get it, but the understanding is in the lesson, and I always make certain that they will learn it. Seems to me, kids think chores are just something they have to do. But actually, it’s so much more than that. Cleaning, if you ask me, is about attention to detail. It’s about time management. It’s about taking care of things. It’s about organization. It’s about inventory and being prepared to take on a necessary task. It’s also presentation, and as I constantly explain to my older two, chores are practical functions in and outside the home.

If I don’t teach them, who will.? My kids like to cut corners, and then quickly try to get out of dodge before I take notice. All that does is waste more of their time because I’ll just call them back to wherever they just left, and instead of telling them what they forgot to do, I’ll just say something like, “You know you aren’t done, right?”

They’ll look at me like I’m shit on a hot sidewalk, and I’ll look at them like, “We can do this all weekend.”

They’ll act like they can’t see bread crumbs on the floor, or that the damn trash needs to go out, or even better, the damn counters haven’t been wiped down. And that’s just in the kitchen…

So, even though it might be something small that they didn’t do, or forgot to do, hopefully they’ll figure it all out, and see that it’s not just about the effort of cleaning in and of itself; but all about them and a developing a work ethic.

As for Zoie, the four year old. She has chores, too. “Pick up all these crayons, paper, beads. Oh and that empty bag of crackers. She gets in on the cleaning action, too.

I’m far from a drill instructor, but I do expect some cleanliness. Once they’ve handled their business, then the rest of the day is all theirs.

Pets

Pets

Alright, so here’s my deal. I like animals and all, but I’ve never had a desire to own one. It just isn’t me. But like I said, I don’t mind them. There’s a reason why I’m talking about this. Cameron and Alexandra wanted a pet, as all kids do, I imagine. I was totally against the idea, and here’s why:

Cats will claw your good furniture, shed hair every-damn-where, claw the carpet, throw up hairballs, and if you’re not lucky, they’ll urinate anywhere but the litterbox, which is designated for them. Fortunately, I don’t have the issue of this cat relieving himself anywhere but the litter box.

Let me formally introduce you guys to this damn cat. His name is Nermal. They named him after the Garfield character. Now this cat was okay when he was a little dude. Back when he couldn’t meow loud enough and didn’t walk around like he’d won the Annual Big Dick contest ten years in a goddamn row. So I admit, I guess I was kind of fond of the calico fucker early on. But now, he just stays in Lexie’s room (that’s Alexandra’s nickname).

Alexandra and Cameron both try to get out of cleaning the litter box, and re-filling his food and water bowls. Mostly Cameron though. For him, I think it’s an out of sight, out of mind kind of thing since Nermal lives in her closet or under her bed. He doesn’t even look out the damn window. I wonder if I opened the window, would he go explore the wild blue and green yonder….far far far away.

Anyway, back to what I was saying. When they brought the cat home from their mom’s friend’s house..mind you..without my expressed permission, I felt like I was put on the spot. They were all, “Please, please dad. Please. We’ll take care of him, etc, etc, etc.” I was still reluctant, but what the hell, whatever.

Five years later, they still can’t get on a systematic schedule of cleaning the litterbox once or twice a day. That was my biggest stipulation. I didn’t – still don’t – want to ever smell the scent of a cat. They’ve done a good job of it, too. But every now and then, I’ll go into Lexie’s room, and look to see if her and Cameron are on their pet detail.

Good job, kiddos.

Work Things Out

Although I’m a hands-on parent, I still like for them to work things out amongst themselves, and leave me be. I mean, let us look at this thing here nutritiously – as I love to say. I could solve their issues everyday all day, and then there’s tomorrow, and another day after that. Some days feel like the day before. They’re always at each others throat over or about something. I can’t remember the last time I watched a full commercial uninterrupted. haha.. No I’m kidding about that.

But seriously though, I don’t remember the last time I watched a full episode of anything. If they aren’t being loud, then they’re being…well…LOUD, and if not that, then one of them is telling the other to stop. Shit gets tiring.

But again, I get it. they’re kids, and I’m supposed to hear them bitching about everything that offends them when they’re in the company of each other.

However, although I enjoy hearing them laugh, not too loud though. When either of them isn’t feeling well, and they sleep all day, I think about when they’re being loud, noisy, and on my damn nerves. It’s in those softer moments that I can’t wait for them to get better and be noisy again.

So this parenting thing is very peculiar.

When Lexie comes in from school, for example, and she’s got a big ass ziplock bag of goodies from the class party, Zoie won’t stop nagging her for the fruit snacks and cookies. Well, Lexie will nag me to make her stop bothering her. I’ll usually tell her something like, “Well, considering the fact that you arrived from school with a bag of sugar, how should this four year old anti-Christ behave?”

Time and time again I have to remind Lexie that she can put that fire out by simply sharing a piece of candy, or whatever with Zoie. Once she does that, Zoie will usually go away and not piss on anymore of Lexie’s snack parades. I don’t understand why she doesn’t take my advice.  There are so many examples to share, but as I’ve explained already, much of their business is easily quieted, but somehow, I get sucked into every roundtable.

When the older two, Cameron and Alexandra(Lexie), disagree on something and can’t come to a fair resolution, then I have to get involved. So when I get involved, I make sure that they don’t involve me again. I just want them to be able to talk and be fair towards each other.

Roblox

So one day, I pick Lexie up from school – her friend, too – and they’re both in the backseat giggling as sixth graders do, and about nothing at all. Absolutely nothing! I mean, they climbed their asses into the car, and were already cracking up. Meanwhile, Zoie had just fallen asleep on the five minute drive around the corner to pick them up, and Lexie asks me about this game called Roblox, which I have never heard of before. I was a little surprised she was asking about video games, because prior to the sixth grade she’d always look the other way when it came to video games. I mean she has a Nintendo Wii in her bedroom that she never plays, but whatever.

So, I’m thinking maybe she’s trying to dig into my wallet again. I asked her where this game was, and she said it’s online.

“Well how did you find out about this video game?” I asked.

“We play it at school,” she said.

So we dropped her friend off and got home. She gets online and logs into the roblox site. Damn, she’s already got a user account, and she’s explaining to me that it’s a game that all the kids are playing. Now, when I did my research about roblox, which by the way, looks like some sort of failed Lego project, I’m finding that the language on the site is pretty liberal. Alright whatever, I’m not going to buffer her from all the shit that’s said on and around the web. Between Target.com and Roblox, she’s content with the internet.

However, I did tell her that I didn’t particularly like the site and that if this Roblox thing is approved by the school, then enjoy it and don’t abuse the privilege. She told me that she only goes into certain areas because in alot of the other areas, the users talk inappropriately.

So, cool. I’m confident that she’s enjoying the game as it is. And since she first told me about Roblox, her activity is pretty normal. This is because I check her movements on that site. She doesn’t know it, but even if she did, I’d just advise her not to delete any online history.

We can’t police every single step our children take, but we can educate them about using excellent judgment, not being followers, and making decisions that put them closer to the rewards, and further from punishment.

She got a computer for her room, so that she’d stay off my laptops and desktops, and guess what? She hardly spends any time playing online. That’s cool, too. Absolutely cool.

It’s Bedtime

 

“It’s 9:30, kiddos. Time for bed,” I say. 30 minutes later, it’s ten o’clock. Amazing, right? NO! That’s not amazing. What’s amazing is the fact that all three of them are still up, carrying on like its two o’clock on a Saturday afternoon.

“What the devil is going on right now? I thought I said it was bedtime thirty minutes ago.” Suddenly they’re all mute. Looking around at each other, trying to quickly figure out some bullshit to feed me, as to why they aren’t in bed, their own rooms, and at least pretending to TRY to go to sleep.

“Look kids, I know you want to stay up because you’ve either got early school release tomorrow, or you’ve got a late start schedule. But listen here, doggonit. When I say bedtime, it means exactly that. Next time I find myself repeating myself again, I’m gonna start taxing ya’ll. Meaning, it’ll come out of your personal video game time, allowance, whatever, and you’ll do extra work around here. I’m not playing. I send ya’ll butts to bed at a decent time to make sure you get a full rest, so you can be at school bringing me A’s and B’s…..”

So the lecture goes on until 11pm, and now they’re yawning like a bunch of lions. Perfect. LIGHTS OUT!

Get Rid of Some Stuff

“C’mon Lexie. You’ve gotta get rid of some of this stuff, and stop changing your room around. I don’t want the carpet in here worn down everywhere because you want to move your furniture around every other week. Not to mention that cat of yours. All he ever does is lay under the bed at the corner, leaving all his doggone hair matted into the carpet.”

“But there’s a big rug under my bed that he lays on, so he’s not actually on the carpet,” she says.

“Well okay, but we’re not moving your bedroom around every other month. Maybe once a year, IF I decide. And another thing, stop leaving your TV on during the day. You and Cameron have that bad. It’s gonna start coming out of your allowance. Don’t believe me, just watch.”

Anyhow, I get it. She’s a girl, and she wants to do these kind of things, and all I can think about is wear and tear, walls be scratched, cat hair all around the room. I swear I don’t like that dude..meaning the cat. If I haven’t told you guys already, his name is Nermal, and he’s nothing like the Garfield character. You know, the grey cat. This goddamn cat just eats, sleeps and shits…well, I guess that’s like Garfield.

Lexie’s room used to be immaculate, from corner to corner. Well hold on, do get me wrong, her room is clean, but not like it use to be. Maybe it’s because she’s accumulated so much shit. Girl’s accessorize everything, and I mean evvvverything. There’s never just one or two of something. There’s hundreds of something. Even shit that you think couldn’t be accessorized is accessorized. Like paperclips, staples, rubberbands, and tootsie rolls.

I’ll go into her room, look around and ask say, “Throw some of this shit away. What are you keeping it for? Why do you need it? I never see you doing anything with this stuff. Why don’t you get rid of it? It’s just taking up space.” Haha

Her answer is always the more obvious of answers that a parent would never think of, because we’re so ‘logical’, right? She says, “Because it’s my stuff.”

“Oh, but of course,” I think to myself. Why is this realization so groundbreaking to me? I’m 41 years old. Her response is absolute GENIUS. Why then do I always get rid of my own shit? I mean, it’s mine, right?

“Maybe the reason people get rid of things every so often,” I tell her, “Is because people make room for new or things. Or just that some stuff is in the way, and has run its course in the place that it’s been.

Then I realized later that she’s barely twelve years old. Her room, I imagine, is supposed to have lots of personality..translation…(shit everywhere). Again, her room isn’t messy or anything like that, she’s just accumulated all sorts of stuff from everywhere. It’s what she’s supposed to do. It’s her own pre-teenage world. She’s got cable, video games, smartphone, Netflix, a computer, walk in closet, all sorts of stuff..Oh, and a damn cat to match.

Sleep-overs

I grew up with three younger brothers. Didn’t have any sisters, so I never understood the nature of girls and the things they needed or wanted, like sleep-overs. Let me break this down much more because it’s about my second oldest. That’s Alexandra (aka Lexie), if you’re just now tuning in to these stories form home or work. Growing up, I never had friends over for anything. The closest my friends got to my house was when we walked the same way after school, and on the weekends, if I hung out with my friends, it was because we all met up somewhere.

Maybe it was because the houses we lived in, during my childhood, were very small. Now let’s talked about Lexie, since this post is mainly about her. I’m finding that girls are alot more complicated that boys. All Cameron needs is a couple snacks, a slushie, and his video games. Once he’s in possession of those few things, I might not see him anymore that whole weekend. He doesn’t care to have his friends over, or go to their house. If he can reach them through the Playstation Network, that’s as good as real company.

But seriously, let’s look at the complexity of Lexi. If it were up to her, she’d have all of her best friends over every Friday evening through Sunday night at 8p, with just enough time to brush her teeth, shower, and go to bed. So she asks me if she can have two of her friends over one weekend, and two others the following weekend. I just looked at her like she was crazy.

“Heck no, you can’t have your friends impose on my tranquility for two full weekends in a row. Hell no. That shit is not happening,” Is what I thought, but I didn’t say it. I told her that her request wasn’t very well thought out because there was no way that was going to be granted.

And of course she wants to know why. I didn’t answer her, but I said, you can have them over this weekend or next weekend, but not both.

Let me tell you why I gave her even that much. Girls are loud, obnoxious, and they laugh at everything. Everything seems to be a bunch of inside jokes and secrets, and when you check on them, they make you feel like you just walked into the wrong restroom. But hold on for a second. The situation gets a bit strange. She asks if her friends can come over, and then when they’re all here, somehow it becomes my dilemma as to what to do with her and her friends. She’s like, “Dad we’re bored. Can you take us somewhere?”

“Uh hell no. What were you guys planning on doing when you invited them here?” I say.

“Well there’s nothing to do,” she says with her reinforcement team standing behind her, observing my responses, totally silent the whole time.

“Well Lexie, do your friends want to go home since there’s nothing to do?”

Suddenly, like a choir, they all speak up at the same time and say they don’t want to leave.

At that point, I look back at Lexie and tell her she’s the host. As I’m getting ready to walk down the hallway to my room, I reminded her that I don’t care how bored she and her friends are. I will pick them up, drop them off, and even feed them in between, but I’m not going to bus you guys around spending my money. Enjoy yourselves here and have fun.

So they all go back into her room, and it’s amazing how fast they start giggling again.

Long Showers

I don’t know how it didn’t occur to me that Cameron’s showers are long for a reason. Long showers, for real. Well hold on, let me clear this up. I don’t have the slightest clue as to what my son could possibly be doing in the shower so long that the goddamn water heater has run out of hot water. When I say hot water, I mean, you can’t turn the shower further than the two o’clock position before it feels like the water temperature is being powered by hot lava. A brand new bar of soap-right out the little box it comes in-is weathered down to a sliver. This is in one shower period.

But then it occurred to me that evolution is occurring in him. Shit! He’s fifteen years old, damn near sixteen. Male biology says it’s time to relieve some of that pressure that’s been building up. Testosterone is occurring everywhere. So I had a talk with him about ‘nature’. I said, “Just make sure you wash your hands before you leave the bathroom, and don’t be firing up no cigarettes after self-service. And please, don’t bring no babies home. In fact, don’t even carry on like you’re grown.” I mentioned some other things, too.

I noticed he was taking these long showers, pardon me; long ass showers around thirteen, but I was on a different thought pattern. I was thinking along the lines of wasted water going down the drain, because I could hear him in the shower rapping and singing “One Republic” songs. So I’d knock on the door, and ask him, rather, tell him to get out if he’s done. Never realizing that he’s likely reached puberty. Shame on me, for probably interfering with his shower processes.

Now even with that said, I still don’t like all my damn hot water running down the drain. I told him a story about my grandfather and my uncles when they were kids. Well one of my uncles told that their father –my grandfather- would shut the water off outside if they were in the shower longer than five minutes. Now, I know I can be strict or whatever, but damn, being forced to wash up and be out of the shower in under five minutes is just crazy. Whether soaped up or not, when that five minute mark hit, the water line to the house was shut off and my uncles had to dry off. That’s an unusual way of parenting. Cameron’s showers are usually twenty minutes.

I even told him one day that women are the only people who need to take extremely long showers. A man can be in and out of a hot shower in ten minutes. But that was just some food for thought –for him-if ever he felt he needed to take a shower longer than twenty to thirty minutes. I can see that he doesn’t need to shave; still in the peach fuzz zone. His hair isn’t that long; but he does need a trim up. So I reason his long showers are due to evolution and pressure relieve.

Peppa Pig

So, Nick Jr. has this show called Peppa Pig. I don’t know when this cartoon started, or if it’s in syndication now, but I think it comes on a couple times a day; at least. The reason why I don’t know anything about this show up until maybe a month ago, in case you’re wondering, is because I hardly watch any tv, rather cable. I’ll use those two to refer to cable tv. So anyhow, the kids watch Netflix and Hulu programming. I don’t watch much of those apps either, unless Walking Dead is on, or Stranger Things is back. There might be another show or two I’ll tune into every now and then, but the for the most part I don’t partake in television.

So one day Zoie must’ve been tinkering around with the cable remote-shit, she might’ve been stepping on the goddamn thing. It ain’t hers, she don’t give a shit-and she accidentally changed the channel to Nick Jr. Mind you, this was about ten o’clock in the evening, and since she didn’t have a nap earlier that day, due to waking up late, she was comfortably awake in bed, making all sort of noise, giggling, and trying to sing alone with the cartoon jingle.

It was perfect timing, because as the channel changed-as a result of whatever she’d done to the remote-Peppa Pig was just getting through the opening song where the daughter pig says something and snorted every tenth word. I think the cartoon is rather odd, but Zoie loves it. Besides, what does she know about cartoons, she’s all of barely five years old.

The show finally goes off and she looks at me like I did something to cause it to not come on again. I suppose it’s because she has no concept of television programming. I imagine-to her- Peppa Pig and other cartoons should be on, or come on, no second than the moment when they cross her mind.

So I had to wise up in a way that she would completely understand my ‘parent’ explanation. I told her that Peppa Pig had to go to sleep because it was late. What good that did. This little girl got pissed; like Cameron and Lexie had taken one of her morning pancakes. I admit, it was pretty funny watching her meltdown. She was rolling around the floor, tangled up in several blankets, for a good thirty seconds until I disappeared out of the bedroom and re-appeared with a deeper voice. I told her she’d better knock it off before I tan those hips.

When you tell a child you’re gonna ‘tan those nips’, a part of me wants to believe they understand exactly what you mean. Or could it be the voice? But just as fast as I said it, she dried her face, rolled over on her little blanket club house, and started talking to me about shapes; she knew Peppa Pig was going to get her lil’ butt in trouble.

Chore Rotation

When my brothers and I were growing up, we had defined chores that rotated every day, and we dare not make any bones about whose turn it was to do what. My parents didn’t give a damn who did what. We knew when we had to clean and what we had to clean. That was an ironfist society.

When I tell Cameron and Lexie its time to clean, even though they’ve been doing chores for years, there’s always something that one of them forgot to do, that the other feels they shouldn’t have to when the chore duty rotates. So then a discussion is had about who did or didn’t do what. Cameron and Lexie like to play that tit for tat bullshit and it gets on my nerves. So what I do now is, whoever didn’t completely do everything they’re tasked with on a given day, then their workload is increased.

The effect of this approach is that not only can I go on about my business, but it effectually has them governing each other. Cameron might have dishes and floors, and Lexie might have trash, recycle, and countertops. Yet, even with this approach, it’s not always a solid design. They are kids and because of this fact, they feel that chores aren’t things they need to commit to their brains. I DON’T KNOW.

So when they ask to go out to eat, or a few extra dollars, etc. my answer is no. They don’t understand it, or rather, pretend not to. They understand that I expect the house-especially the kitchen-to be clean, but they don’t consistently make the effort that leaves a shine.

Ever since they got new smartphones, it’s like they started slacking on the effort, so it seems. Growing up at home, when we didn’t do the job right, we had to do it all over again. If there was a tiny bit of food on a fork sitting in the drying rack, the whole drying rack was emptied back into the sink, and the dishwashing started again. I guess looking back on those times, it wasn’t that my parents were being mean or anything, because as a parent, myself, we teach these kids attention to detail, and a bit of care, and they’d better get it right the first time or do it all over a second time.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t irritated by Cameron and Lexie’s chore ethic. I really hate resolving who’s got what chore to do. So, in exchange of that, I just hand down restrictions. Their problem not mine.

Shes Impossible

Zoe will try to wear all her underwear in a single day. She’ll start off with one pair of underwear, and wear those for a few hours, or until she has to go pee. At that point, I guess the fact that she has to pull them down before sitting on the toilet is reason enough to just take the damn things off.  When she puts on a fresh pair, as if the previous pair weren’t, she’ll put on an additional pair, and then she’ll get pissed off because she can’t get into her jeans.

“Well take four or five pair of underwear off and you’ll be able to put your pants on!” I tell her. She really believes in the impossible and will try everything under the sun to get her way; which is to get into every article of clothing no matter the size. I’m not sure how this is going to translate to a good quality later on life if continues to be so stubborn.

When you think about it, it’s really like a grown person trying to put their grown ass foot into a kids shoe, or wearing baby socks. What if grown folks didn’t possess the logic or reason needed to accomplish or understand life’s daily processes?

So I watch Zoe go through her moments with her clothes, and sometimes I just want to get the camcorder and film everything. The problem is, the moment she’s on film, her demeanor changes. So instead I write about her instances of child-dom.

So after she’s given up the struggle with her clothes, and she’s finally decided on something, her room is a mess. Now she’s in another part of the house taking those clothes off, just to run around in ONLY her underwear. I just don’t get it.

I actually think she’s doing this shit on purpose, just to keep me busy doing anything BUT the shit that I’d rather be doing. I don’t ever remember the older two doing any of this, and if I’ve spoiled her, how do you spoil a child to have a fit over their clothes? You understand what I’m saying? You can’t spoil a child to be stubborn in this way. So this is why I think Zoe is her own cartoon. Lacking reason and understanding. She’s impossible to not love, and her stubbornness makes her a wreck, but what do ya do?

Daughter’s Sleep Overs

I grew up with three younger brothers. Didn’t have any sisters, so I never understood the nature of girls and the things they needed or wanted. Let me break this down much more because it’s about my second oldest. That’s Alexandra (aka Lexie), if you’re just now tuning in to these stories from home or work. Growing up, I never had friends over for anything. The closest my friends got to my house was when we walked the same way after school, and on the weekends, if I hung out with my friends, it was because we all met up somewhere.

Maybe it was because the houses we lived in, during my childhood, were very small. Now let’s talked about Lexie, since this post is mainly about her. I’m finding that girls are alot more complicated that boys. All Cameron needs is a couple snacks, a bag of chips, and his video games. Once he’s in possession of those few things, I might not see him anymore that whole weekend. He doesn’t care to have his friends over, or go to their house. If he can reach them through the Playstation Network, that’s as good as real company.

But seriously, let’s look at the complexity of Lexi. If it were up to her, she’d have all of her best friends over every Friday evening through Sunday night at 8p, with just enough time to brush her teeth, shower, and go to bed. So she asks me if she can have two of her friends over one weekend, and two others the following weekend. I just looked at her like she was crazy.

“Heck no, you can’t have your friends imposing on my tranquility for two full weekends in a row. Hell no. That shit is not happening,” Is what I thought, but I didn’t say it. I told her that her request wasn’t very well thought out because there was no way that was going to be granted. (haha)

And of course she wants to know why. I didn’t answer her, but I said, you can have them over this weekend or next weekend, but not both.

Let me tell you why I gave her even that much. Girls are loud, obnoxious, and they laugh at everything. Everything seems to be a bunch of inside jokes and secrets, and when you check on them, they make you feel like you just walked into the wrong restroom. But hold on for a second. The situation gets a bit strange. She asks if her friends can come over, and then when they’re all here, somehow it becomes my dilemma as to what to do with them all. She’s like, “Dad we’re bored. Can you take us somewhere?”

“Uh hell no. What were you guys planning on doing when you invited them here?” I say.

“Well there’s nothing to do,” she says with her reinforcement team standing behind her, observing my responses, totally silent the whole time.

“Well Lexie, do your friends want to go home since there’s nothing to do?”

Suddenly, like a choir, they all speak up at the same time and say they don’t want to leave.

At that point, I look at Lexie and tell her she’s the host. As I’m getting ready to walk down the hallway to my room, I reminded her that I don’t care how bored she and her friends are. I will pick them up, drop them off, and even feed them in between, but I’m not going to bus you guys around spending my money. Enjoy yourselves here and have fun.

So they all go back into her room, and it’s amazing how fast they start giggling again.