Our chore chart lives on. Every month or so it needs reorganized. Negotiations rule the discussion. There are a lot of gray areas.
“I cleaned my room, but I forgot to put up a magnet. Now it’s dirty again. Does that count?” Piper asked.
“It doesn’t count. You have to clean your room again,” Sissy said.
“Fine. But I’m putting up two magnets then. And then, I may just mess it up again.”
Maybe I was grumpy Sunday morning. Maybe I didn’t like waking up at 7 a.m. with a demand for Orange Spice Tea and reruns of Austin and Alley on the Disney Channel. Maybe even all the cuddling didn’t distract me from my grumpiness. Maybe my grumpiness was a bit contagious when other people started rolling out of bed in the 9 o’clock range. Or maybe by then grumpiness had turned into rage. Whatever.
I made blueberry muffins for our Sunday family meeting and the four of us sat down together to share our grumpiness. Maybe I whined a little about the unfairness of the day so far. I’d had hours to stew. Sissy and Daddy looked refreshed and ready to start their day. Piper bounced. She’s a bit like Tigger and Dennis the Menace rolled into one. Most of the time it’s
enduring endearing. Sunday mornings at 7 a.m. it’s not.
At breakfast, Piper decided she wasn’t having any more of my grumpiness. “Maybe we should talk about our goals for the day,” she began, sounding a lot like me when I’m not so grumpy. “Let’s all say what we need and then we’ll all help each other. Sound good?”
“I need to play my guitar and read a little today. And we should do something fun,” Daddy began. I bit my lip. Nothing I was going to say would be positive or welcome.
“I have swim lessons at noon,” Sissy said, “and I need to play piano. Oh, and let’s go to the park for fun.”
“Mommy?” Piper asked. She was enjoying her role as moderator.
“I need to go for a run. A long run. Soon. And I need to finish planning for my classes tomorrow. Oh, and I want to be outside today.” Piper was right. I felt better just saying what I needed. I needed to stop being grumpy. I needed someone to listen. And they did. Darn it.
We mapped out a plan for the day. Time together. Time alone. Fun time. Music time. Me time. I even squeezed out a trip to DSW. It’s really hard to be grumpy there.
Once a week we try to have a family meeting. There’s nothing formal about it. We just gather around the table and put whatever needs sorted on the table. It clears the air. I gripe less daily when I know I can bring up my grievance at family meeting. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a laundry list of grievances. None of us do. But when you live in a family, stuff needs talked about. The family meeting is our place to do that. It’s like therapy without the therapist. Sissy and Piper have a voice, too. Last family meeting Sissy asked people to knock before they barged into her room. Dad was frustrated that no one ever puts the hairbrushes back. I asked people to remember to clean out their lunch boxes right after school so they’d be dry by morning.
We also chat about good stuff coming up. We exchange news. The pending move in our new house was a hot topic at our last family meeting. The girls had questions, mostly about paint colors and decor. It was pretty civilized. Until Piper slammed her fist on the table out of nowhere and announced, “WE NEED SOME RULES AROUND HERE, PEOPLE!” We all gaped at her in wonder. Where did that come from? I still don’t know. The family meeting dissolved in giggles and there was no order to be had.
We had to call an emergency family meeting tonight. It was about this whole slow food “issue.” I’m not talking about this:
I’m in to all that. I’m talking about Piper and Sissy’s propensity for taking so long to finish a meal that breakfast runs in to lunch and lunch runs into dinner. We call it brealunner for short. There’s nothing short about it, though. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy a leisurely pace. I like that we talk so much at meal time. I like that Piper cracks us up. Sissy tells us about her day. Important questions are asked and answered. Meal time is awesome for the first hour. You heard me right. It’s just that we can’t seem to do anything else in our house but make meals, eat meals, and clean up after meals. At this point we’re going to have to start bringing our pillows to the table.
So, we brainstormed (post rant, of course). Sissy suggested a new seating arrangement for less distraction. Done. Piper suggested we all stand up while we eat and stop using utensils and napkins. Vetoed. I suggested a timer simply to make us aware of a reasonable passage of time. Motion carried. Dad suggested we cut down on snacks between meals. Split vote. It was a productive conversation. We began eating.
At the end of our meeting and our successful thirty minute meal, I asked if there were any other issues to discuss. Piper had one.
“You guys are kind of bossy. You’re always telling us what to do. I think you both should work on that. Your bossiness, that is.”
Maybe I should have sent her to bed without her dinner, but A. she’d already eaten it and B. I was laughing too hard.