Oh Snap!

This weekend Ashley was sick--like reverse-peristalsis-stay-in-bed-for-two-days sick. She's back to herself now, but for Saturday and Sunday I needed to stay on top of things, most notably Allie and Avery. Since keeping them busy is the best way to do this, I didn't anticipate any issues because I had already planned for this would be a "cleaning" weekend" which is a bi-monthly family event I concocted for whenever the house is on the verge of being shut down by the EPA.

Allie and Avery despise cleaning weekends, an attitude I find ironic given they are the main perpetrators behind most of the environmental hazards putting us at risk. With the haywire schedule over the past month, we haven't engaged in a cleaning weekend for a while; so the place had been a little more toxic than usual. The girls in particular have been out of control.

I understand their bedroom and playroom are going to be messy at any given period, but their aggravating habit of leaving things wherever they will without displaying an inkling of consideration for picking it up when finished had reached an extreme of late, spilling into other areas both in and out of the house. To give you an idea, Allie and Avery made noisemakers using gravel poured into water bottles which they then sold from a stand in the front yard hoping to attract the neighborhood kids as buyers. Twenty minutes later, with no one showing any interest in placing an order, the girls closed up shop, bruised by the realities of the current economy.

A while later, I went outside and found that, in order to dump off assets that could be used against them in the bankruptcy, the girls had tossed their noisemakers into the yard and bushes rather than in the trash as instructed. I was livid. Given that we rent, our house's landscaping is nothing to brag about. It's probably the worst on the street, and the front lawn looks sadly like the patchy coif of a recent post-chemo cancer survivor. Pathetic yard or not, few things turn me red like kids throwing their garbage on the ground for someone else to deal with. And it only got worse from here.

As mentioned earlier, it's been busy around here, and I haven't been enforcing the regular chore schedule for Allie and Avery, an oversight they had taken full advantage of. This became apparent in happening upon such discoveries as the wet moldy pile of washcloths growing ever higher under the sink after each bath. There were other disgusting examples (dirty underwear with skid-marks made by eighteen wheeler cowering under the bed), but despite being appalled by each new horror (half-eaten Slim Jims in nightstand), I really had to blame myself for not ensuring that they follow their daily task list.

I was rather vocal about how things were going to change, and this morning I woke up Allie and Avery fifteen minutes earlier so they'd have time to get ready for school and still finish their chores. Standing in the doorway I reminded them that they couldn't have breakfast until beds were made and their room was cleaned up.

"Are you kidding me?" Allie asked rising up from under covers. Five minutes later she was in the kitchen pulling the milk out for her cereal.

"Beds made? Room picked up?" I asked, but she didn't say anything. "Allie? Is it done?"

"Yeah." The curtness of her answer told me she was pissed about the rules going back into effect.

"Thank you, Allie. Now, I'm setting the timer on the stove ten minutes before the bus comes so you girls will have time to wipe off the table and clean up the bathroom." In saying this, I pushed more than just the buttons on the clock. The surliness bubbling beneath Allie's thinly restrained demeanor, erupted onto the surface.


I didn't say anything at first. To me it was actually rather amusing that she thought her reaction would reshape my whole world view on the matter. Allie is almost a clone of her mother, and Ashley's clashes with her own stepfather were the stuff of family lore. That it took him having a heart attack last month before Ashley would extend to him even an ounce of sympathy, hinted at the lengths I would likely need to aspire in order to elicit the same feeling from Allie one day.

For the moment, however, I'm was not taking any crap from a kid. "Oh really," I said in a matter-of-fact tone. "You think you're grumpy now? Just think about how grumpy you're going to be now that you're grounded--no TV of video games for a week."

Allie dropped her head, more pissed than ever.

Then Avery, who had been sitting next to Allie through the entire exchange, tapped her sister on the shoulder. "Hey, Allie," she said leaning in closer. "The adult just said, 'In your FACE!'"

Oh SNAP! Yeah. I kind of did.

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