I have been journaling this babysitting adventure but have trouble finding time to turn my writings into a post. So what I share at this point won’t be timely. A problem may be sufficiently solved by the time I post so, Mom and Dad Down Under, don’t worry.
I wasn’t sure about posting about the kids, but I have done it back in Minnesota about my grandchildren there and found they rather liked it, self-centered little beings that they are. And I promise redemption of some sort before the end of this visit.
Up Over – Part II
One part of orientating was Chris instructing me at how he does laundry. He keeps the loads going through the wash and drying and daughter Keilah is in charge of folding and getting the loaded baskets to the various kids’ bedrooms where they are supposed to put their clothes away. He complained about the kids throwing their clean clothes in the laundry instead of hanging them up. As a result, he said, he finds himself washing clean clothes. He also complained that they don’t turn their clothes right side out as he wants them to. I had that sort of self-satisfied feeling a parent gets when one of their adult children experiences the same frustration they felt in raising them. Chris must have seen a certain look on my face because he named it. “You know all about this, I know.”
The sad thing is that there was a miscommunication between Chris and I about the various piles and baskets of clothes. I took the clean clothes and sorted them in with the dirty clothes and started washing the whole bunch. Remember, 14 people live in this house so, at first, I didn’t question the volume. In addition to the clean clothes, a couple of baskets of socks had been dumped into the pile, it seems by some activity of the dogs. (In their family, all socks are thrown in baskets and anyone who wants to wear matching socks has to go hunting for them.) It was the huge abundance of socks that clued me into the mistake I’d made. Last night I threw in the last of these mixed loads. I felt sorry for the overabundance of folding dumped on Kaelah. She has already delivered full baskets to the kids rooms. I told her last night that she could pick a buddy to help her finish up and then she will be on her own again.
Now for the reason horns are starting to sprout on my head. The next stage of the laundry process after Kaelah delivers the baskets to the bedrooms is for the kids to put away the clothes and return the baskets to the laundry room. When I found myself without baskets, I investigated the bedrooms and found not only that the clothes had not been put away, but they were starting to ooze all over the floors like volcanic lava. At the nightly debriefing session, I impressed upon the dirty dozen that I expected the clothes to be put away by morning. They all agreed showing the beautiful respect they’d been taught.
The next morning, breakfast behind, and the kids getting ready to leave for the co-op, I walked into room occupied by the younger boys to find the basket still overflowing all over the floors. Smoke started to come out of my nose. They must have seen it because they boys started scrambling like ants when hearing the march of the grasshoppers. After they left, I took a look into their room and felt a sense of power when I saw their room cleared of clothes. But then I walked into the two oldest boys’ room. Their basket still sat there, untouched. They were gone, of course. I could have sent a mean text but was afraid they would never come home.
Then I thought of the time Jesus told the story of the two sons. The father went to the older one and told him to do his chores. “I don’t want to,” the son said, but being the one with a conscience, he later went and did what he’d been told to do. The father told the second son the same thing and he said, respectfully, “Yes, sir.” Then Jesus asked, “Which of the two did what the father wanted?” Of course, they said, “The older one.” I know he was talking to his disciples and this story was intended to hit the slackers among them right between the brows. “Genius,” I thought. I put a book mark in the bible and thought I would read it later during the debriefing.
Well, when debriefing came around, said offenders were still out. Micah is 17 and Isaiah 18. Eight-thirty is a little early for them. With the exception of Noah, the one other teen brother, the rest of the children were in bed by the time they walked in. They were so sweet. Micah, even gave me a hug when they came in. I said, “There are two things I want to talk to you two about.” I made sure they were both listening. Micah was already texting his girlfriend. I thanked them for all the arranging they were doing so Grandpa and I didn’t have to do so much running to get them from one activity to another. Then I told them about the basket of clothes sill untouched in their bedroom. I didn’t use the bible story…that would have been really, really weird at his point. I just told them that, here they are the oldest of the kids, and they are the only ones who didn’t put their clothes away. I wanted them to do it before they would be leaving again the next morning. I loved the fact that they both looked kind of sheepish. They agreed to do what I asked. I am writing this in the early morning of the next day. I have yet to see their room. I think they will put the clothes away.
I know that I will have to do a lot more reminding as the days go by. I know I have an advantage over a parent who has to be on them all the time. The cartoon of the mother lecturing the kid and the kid just hearing, “Waa, waa, waa…” is pretty true to life. A new voice can often be better heard. I play the grandma card, too. I try to look a little feeble like the kids expect a grandma to look. I limp a bit. I huff and puff when I get to the top of the basement stairs. I look confused. So far it is working pretty well, but not quite well enough.
Later: As most parents reading this blog post knows, the two infamous ones left the house without attending to the basket of clothes. I immediately began brainstorming about what to do. How do I reach these boys where they hurt? They men, for-cryin’-out-loud. They are constantly primping their feathers and they practice their prince charming techniques on any woman around, including moms and grandmas. You might call it manipulation but it is really preparing for the future when they will be mating and settling down. Then I got it: appeal to their hormones. “To a married woman,” I will them, “Foreplay is washing dishes and doing the laundry.”