This weekend there is absolutely nothing on our schedule. This is rare in our household and when I awoke to beautiful temps on this Saturday morning I smiled. This is a perfect day to spend with my family.
Then I came downstairs and, as usual, the mess from the week caught up with me. Art projects were strewn across my dining room table from Charlie’s 2nd grade class. Instruments, jackets and backpacks were cluttering my messy tile floor. I longingly looked outdoors and wished that the house genie would just Poof! and Voila! My house would be clean.
Three hours later, when the hubby woke up I had him sit on our downstairs couch to envision my desires for the day. I think the spring cleaning bug is working on my brain because I imagined: rearranging pictures and artwork, decorating our house with St. Paddy’s Day/Easter decor and cleaning our entire home and backyard and heading to the grocery store. By this time all three of my sons were in the den on computers or consoles. It was 11:30 AM and we had not even eaten breakfast yet.
After breakfast, amongst the clutter of dishes and countertops piled with paper, I sighed. One of the perks of getting good grades is that the boys are allowed to play video games during the week. It used to be that we were busy with extra-curricular activities and rarely had time to eat dinner, shower and hit the sack. They used to beg for chores to try to earn play time. But now our boys sit like zombies after homework is completed.
Dave rolled his eyes at my list. I always have running lists and it drives him crazy. But today he decided we would do my list, all together, as a family. Normally he and the boys work on the yard while I clean inside. But since I was complaining that we don’t do things as a familial unit, he decided we all would do things together. This wasn’t an efficient means of getting things done, but in the spirit of family day I assented.
As you can imagine, the boys were overjoyed. I was upstairs when he relayed the information that they would all be turning off electronic devices to work together as a family. Dave began to task each son with things to do and I was summoned downstairs. Together we would first tackle the backyard and enjoy the wonderful weather. Not quite the family day, I think, most people would have in mind but we all changed into old clothes and headed outdoors.
First, we needed to dispose of our rampant cans and bottles along the side of our house. The five of us put them into bags and our recycle container and headed over to our local recycling center. Apparently a lot of people had the same idea because there was a long line. But with the proceeds of our recycle efforts, a measly $9.10, the boys were rewarded with a carbonated beverage and got to choose an ice cream dessert for later tonight. Our dear friend’s girls scout troop stood nearby so $12 was shelled over to her cause.
Dave and Nate drove, the rest of us walked, home and it became time to tackle our heavily weeded yard. The weeds were almost the same size as our dwarf trees and so Dave and I attacked the offending plants with our shovels and hoes while the boys picked up, after us, and put the weeds in our yard waste can. Usually when our sons are in the den there is constant bickering and sibling rivalry. It was a nice surprise to observe the boys cooperating; raking and efficiently collecting items to move to the next mound. Dave snapped a shot of the boys collecting the weeds in plastic bags. They finally figured out that using the recycle container allowed them to move more weeds in less time.
During weeding the foiliage made its way into our pool; which was already dirty. The older boys got to work, Doug skimming and Nate vacuuming while the youngest, miraculously appeared in swim trunks and jumped in. Brrrrrrrrr. By this time the sun was setting and dinner was, much to our dismay, still in need of roasting. So next on the list was cleaning the house. This is, normally, my domain and I wasn’t quite sure what Dave meant when he said we’d do things together. When I returned downstairs from emptying a laundry basket I walked into the boys in the bathroom; and quickly grabbed my camera. The boys proceeded to clean two of our three bathrooms. I chose to clean our own since cleaning bathrooms is something I actually enjoy (I know, I’m weird). Doug continued to empty laundry baskets while Dave vacuumed.
By 8 PM our roast, still was not done. We were hungry. And tired since we had been on our feet for most of the day. That’s when Dave announced we were off to our next family outing; the grocery store. To their credit, the boys didn’t even so much as groan. For half an hour our family actually split (technically we were all in the same store). The boys would happily wave at one another as our carts passed in aisles and an hour later we were, again, in our kitchen putting food items away. At long last, our roast was done and everyone voraciously ate.
It was then that the middle son says, “Family day was actually fun.” When I questioned him if he minded all the work he replied that, no, he didn’t mind. What he did mind was that I insinuated that the three boys sit in the computer room like zombies when, in fact, they are capable of doing work; just ask them next time.
I glanced at my husband who wore a (pardon my French) shit-eating grin. I don’t know if he fed that line to my boys or not. He had jokingly said we’d be finished by midnight and it was 10:30 PM and we were still not done. My floors still needed to be mopped and my decorations/ art hadn’t even been brought down. But I am done. Surprisingly, the other two boys also agreed it was a fun day. We were all outside, we worked together and we worked towards common goals. My goal was a clean house and yard. Their goal; that they can get along and to prove Mom wrong. They aren’t always zombies. For Dave, it was gratifying to just be together with no interruptions. Now the boys are all watching Top Gun.
As tired as I am this is one of those days I will remember. We didn’t do anything, especially exciting; just work. My boys have made me proud, for many things, but I am especially proud that they showed me up today. As a mom of boys I do not want them to be dependent on Mom, or another woman, to do things for them. There are those parents that feel that kids should be allowed to be kids; they hover and do everything for them. They will give them anything they want.
I am not that parent. I want my kids to know the value of a dollar. I don’t want them to feel entitled that we, the parents, should give them anything they want. That is not my job. My job is to prepare them for reality. When they make a mess, I want them to know how long it takes to clean it up. My boys know what to do with their laundry, how to put away dishes and, though it isn’t pretty, do attempt to make their beds. I’m relieved that they find meaning in work and were proud of their productivity. They are still at the age where work is still novel and they want to do it. I know the time will soon come when they’ll hate it. I’m filing the black and white snapshots in my memory.