Everything’s Better at Grandma’s House

Piper’s chore after dinner is to clear the table.  Sissy cleans the plates and loads the dishwasher.  I have either cooked the dinner or I’m on pots and pans duty.  My partner does the same. This chore distribution is under constant negotiation at Saturday family meetings, but it seems whatever chore Piper is assigned, she spends much of her time trying to wiggle out of it.  She’s actually quite proud of herself once her chore is completed, but the actual task brings much protest.  The working conditions are just unacceptable.

“I wish we lived at a hotel,” Piper said tonight dragging her feet as she moved the dishes the entire ten feet from table to counter. “Then we wouldn’t have to clean up.”

This was followed by loud, exaggerated sighs.  We all ignored her. Piper escaped to the living room.

“Come back, Piper.  The table isn’t clear.”

More sighs.

“My arms are tired,” she whined, flailing her exhausted arms.

We all ignored her.

“I wish I was at Grandma’s house,” Piper said. “You don’t have to do chores at Grandma’s house.”

“We aren’t at Grandma’s house. Piper, finish clearing the table, please.”

She’d now stretched her two minute job into almost half an hour.  She cleared the last plate and mumbled, “Everything is better at Grandma’s.”

Who do you think taught me to make my kids do their chores? Piper probably doesn’t want to know the answer to that.

Partner Parenting Perils

We have an authority problem in our house.  As in, I have all of it.  In addition to my role as general manager, I’m also the supreme ruler over the distribution of Gummy Tummies. Piper likes the penguins.

Here’s the conversation following dinner last night:

Piper: “Can I have a gummy tummy?”
Dad: “Sure.”
Sissy: “You don’t have the authority to decide. Mom gives out the treats.”
Dad. “What? Huh?”
Piper: “That’s right.  You’re not the responsibility around here!”

I don’t endorse nor do I desire all the authority.  It comes with too much “responsibility.”  My partner and I do a pretty good job of dividing the work load.  We each cook, clean, and care for the kids. We both work full-time. There are things I do better, like paying bills and managing the schedule, and there are things he does better, like taking the kids for shots and vacuuming. The split works for us mostly because we’ve each been home with the kids for extended periods of time and know, without a doubt, that the hardest job is staying.  It’s so much easier to put on my high heels and grab my lunch box.  But we both think it matters to be home, so we do a lot of tag team parenting.  We flip our work schedules. Somehow in the mix, though, my alpha nature has been misconstrued by Piper and Sissy. You’d think my partner would be upset about it.  His response? “I’m rising to my highest level of incompetence.”  True. Doing things poorly is one way to not have to do them at all.  Competence at the task does equal some amount of authority, doesn’t?

This partner parenting peril became apparent this morning when we discovered that the kids’ lunches hadn’t been packed.  We went to the chore chart immediately because it holds the ultimate authority in our house.

It was a Friday morning.  Clearly, he’s in charge of packing the lunches on Thursday evenings.  It’s his one night of the week.  Now, before you crucify him as I did…Thursday night was crazy.  He was shuttling the girls between ballet and piano and picking me up late from work.  We gave up at 7 o’clock and ate out.  It was an evening to be endured and survived.  You’ve had those, too, I’m guessing.  So, we were a bit off schedule. Understandable.  Even forgivable.  Logically, he should pack the lunches Friday morning, right? Enter Piper.  “Daddy makes the grody lunches.  He doesn’t pack healthy stuff.  And he forgets the note.”  Sissy confirmed his incompetence.  I suggested he was just doing it differently, not better or worse, and I think I then yelled something about them packing their own flipping lunches.  It’s fuzzy to me now. Potty words before 9 a.m. will do that to you.

So, how do we sort out our authority problem?  Which really means how do I diffuse power for the greater good?  The answer was in this simple question: “Who wants to go to the park?” I have no authority at the park.  In wide open spaces where metal bars are concerned, I’m that helicopter parent who insists on spotting every stray toddler as they descend the monkey bars. Piper and Sissy ran out the door with their dad. The world’s worst park mom was left behind.

And for the record, I did pack the Friday morning lunches but not because he does it better or worse. He had to be at work earlier than me.  I do pack a mean lunch.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread, Green Beans, Baby Carrots, Blueberries, Hummus

Sometimes even the general manager has to get her hands dirty.

I’ll Raise You a Lalaloopsy Part Two: Guest Blogger, Grandpa

Introducing today’s guest blogger: Piper’s grandpa. He wrote in response to the post I’ll Raise You a Lalaloopsy in which Piper almost successfully negotiated a $400 weekly allowance so she could get one of these:

Here’s what my dad had to say on the chores, allowances, and the lalaloopsy issue:

Dear Piper’s Keeper,

As a seasoned negotiator both in capitalism and with children and allowances (also in getting grandchildren to do chores for next to nothing by offering to teach them a lesson),  I’m freely offering my services to settle this lalaloopsy conflict.

First, I think everyone should get allowances, adults as well as children.

I propose the following for consideration:

  1. List all chores to be done.
  2. List all possible participants.  (It would appear the General Manager has successfully done these items based on the chart)
  3. Give each chore an amount.  Here I would suggest using Lalaloopsy currency since it seems understood by all participants.
  4. Let all participants “bid” on each chore.

For instance, consider the following Lalaloopsy schedule:

  • Cleaning the bathroom is a tough chore if done right: 50 Lalaloopsy
  • Vacuuming is easy stuff, at least I thought so until I learned you had to vacuum the wood floors, too (according to your mom):  20 Lalaloopsy
  • Taking out the trash:  It’s a no brainer, except for remembering to put a new trash bag in the kitchen can before you dump the coffee grounds into it:  5  Lalaloopsy
  • Making school lunches should not be on the chore schedule.  If you want to eat, you should make your lunch.  I have to make my own lunch when I go fishing.  I want to eat when I go fishing.  After all, listening to the radio and eating are mainly the reasons I go fishing.  Consider applying the same reasoning to dinner.
  • Laundry:  What could be easier?  It’s not like we have to go down to the stream and beat the underwear clean on a rock.  The machines do everything.  Three loads, white, dark, and other.  Ironing?  That is what they make jackets and dry cleaners for.  Folding laundry and sorting? That’s what they make dressers for.  Besides, you cannot be responsible for the way your children look in public.  Look around you.  Clearly parents are not.  2 Lalaloopsy
  • Cleaning your room:  Unless you are selling your home, the cleanliness of your room should be up to you.  That is what they make doors for.  Sissy has clearly figured out the chore of keeping her room clean.  She sleeps and plays in Piper’s room while leaving hers set up as a picture session for Modern Decorating Magazine.  She’s also cleverly convinced Piper that she sleeps in her room to make Piper more comfortable. Lalaloopsy value? Priceless.

Now, here is the important part.  Have everyone bid on each chore for the amount of Lalaloopsys they think it’s worth.  For example, I love to buy groceries.  I would bid 1 Lalaloopsy on that chore in order to hopefully win it.  Consider that there are only two of you who can drive to the store so it will come down to you and Joe to get this bid.  Joe is not a good shopper.  He is a good list buyer.  You, as the General Manager, can easily make a case for this chore.

Have open bidding, auction style.  I would suggest you watch Storage Wars to get the idea. If you want help setting my proposal and/or the auction up, let me know. I will be happy to bid on it.

With love,

A content grandpa, dad, and husband