Monday, November 13, 2006

Hall O' Shame

Just in case I was getting a little tooooo complacent about my behavior as a swell mom who always tries to do right by her kids, destiny kindly stepped in this morning to kick me in the everlovin' broadening butt.

I was still lying in my toasty bed, slightly awake and savoring the marvelous softness of the sateen sheets and comforting weight of the gigantic hand-made afghan, when the Tyke came into the room and hovered over me in the semi darkness.

"Mom, did you see a thing of skeletons on the table?"

A 'thing of skeletons'? What is a 'thing of skeletons'? I groggily called to mind a picture of a cellophane package full of, perhaps, plastic glow-in-the-dark Halloween party favors or something. It didn't sound familiar at all.

"What do you mean by 'a thing of skeletons'?"

"You know, it was some papers I had on the table with skeleton drawings on it. It was my homework, and I need it to turn in today, and now it's missing."

Ohhhhh, THAT thing of skeletons. Now I knew what he was talking about: he had a two-page, double-sided worksheet for Spanish. The assignment theme was the Mexican holiday the Day of the Dead. It had vocabulary, a word search puzzle, and a multiple-choice word-matching exercise on it. It had made the rounds all over the family room, dinette, kitchen counters, you name it.

Yes, I had seen it various times over the three-day weekend. It kept getting moved. He put it in the wrong places time after time, and I kept putting it where I hoped he would see it and put it properly away in his notebook, but he never did put it away, even when I asked specifically. This is a constant occurrence and makes me nuts. I did remember grabbing a bunch of stuff and throwing it in The Box.

In our house, I have tried (with barely marginal success) a "Put Away Box" method for relocating kid stuff. It is perhaps the stupidest and most pointless thing I have come up with to date. The idea is that as I move through the house throughout the day, I pick up the kids' crap (they consider any horizontal surface fair game) and throw it in the Put Away Box. Before bed, they have to take their junk out of there and put it where it belongs. [*snicker*guffaw*]

The usual verbal litany of putitawayputitawayputitawayputitaway does not work with them, because like most kids, they are blessed with selective hearing. They also generally don't care at all about punitive consequences. They will just take the consequence, no matter how negative, and keep doing the undesirable behavior.

My kids are phenomenal when it comes to mess. In fact, they almost without fail put things where they absoluely, positively DO NOT BELONG. I absolutely, positively cannot keep up with the mess, no matter how valiantly I try, and I do try very hard. If I spend the six hours when they are at school cleaning up, then within a half-hour of their coming home, it will be worse than before. They are the Tazmanian Devils of slobbery.

Case in point: I was talking to my mom-in-law, whom I adore, on the phone Saturday. She mentioned how she doesn't understand the way kids are these days (in reference to two other grandkids). And I went on a rant about the vagaries of her other grandkids, and, while walking around with the phone, went to the boys' "computer desk," which is also a music/composition center. It's also a place where one of them loves to chain-snack. I narrated my finds to mom-in-law. Under the desk I found the usual tangled snakepile of electrical cords, broken guitar strings, autumn leaves from shoe bottoms, and bits of paper. But--surprise! A new discovery like no other: I found a black sock, covered in CRUMBS, stuffed into a plastic cup holding dregs of curdled milk.

A crumb-covered sock. In a cheesy cup. On the floor. Under the desk.

She howled.

I've had it.

I'm leaving.

Now I'm going to say the usual parent thing: If I had EVER done ANYTHING that disrespectful to MY parents' house, they would have kicked my stupid teenage a$s inside out until it was hanging out my mouth. You just don't make mess like that. You just don't to stuff like that.

Well, in my mindless routine, mixed with motherly wrath and righteous indignation, I apparently picked up a sheaf of Tyke's homework, and I saw that some of it was out of date and already corrected. I thought perhaps I had tossed it into the Put Away Box. Tyke reported that he had already looked there. I asked if maybe he had already put it in his notebook inside the backpack.

"No, Mom, I left it out on the table so that I would find it this morning. Did you throw it out, Mom? Did you throw it out?"

This is not the sort of thing to tell me first thing in the morning. I am not a morning person. I lit into the Tyke like white on rice.

"This is why we have the Put Away Box. Because you and your brother put things in the wrong place. WHEN YOU HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO LOSE, PUT IT AWAY IN THE RIGHT PLACE!"

I was also maybe extremely pissed off that I was being blamed for throwing away something that had been chronically, carelessly left lying around. How dare I do what I ought by all rights to do?

I did remember picking up some papers, and thought I might have tossed out an old spelling practice sheet.

Oddly enough, when I looked, there was no trash in the kitchen bin. I was perplexed. No one else ever takes out the trash but me, or the boys who are forced to take it out once a week, the night before garbage collection. There was no bag in the bin, not even an empty bag.

When DH came down to head to work, he said that he had made G take the trash out last night. Leaving Tyke weeping on the dinette floor, we went into the garage and DH rifled through the bag. I stood by and spotted a wad. It was the Spanish homework.

So I was the culprit. Without giving it a second thought or even remembering I had done it, I had thrown out the homework, thinking the whole sheaf was corrected, acknowledged and past being needed.


I'm still mad about all the stuff being disorganized, and for being blamed. Of COURSE I should get rid of stuff if people are not going to take responsibility for it. (Shouldn't I?) But I do feel sorry for the poor Spanish teacher, Senorita Rebecca, who is going to have to look at that slightly damp, crumpled and stinky paper decorated with a couple of smears of tomato paste.



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