I’ve had a parenting epiphany.
You know how you try to do basic things the right way, and your kids screw it up?
Like, you put toys away, load the dishwasher, refill the hand soap dispenser in the bathroom and your kids walk silently in your wake dumping glitter on the clean carpet, licking spoons, and washing the cat in the bathroom sink?
I don’t think it’s in their nature to be this messy and destructive. I think children are highly specialized operatives trained in psychological warfare, then planted in our homes.
Like pint-sized soldiers, their brains have been programmed to test their parents’ sanity by creating catastrophic messes faster than you can say, “Who’s been playing with the 5-pound bag of flour?”
We parents are just laymen, unskilled in the art of deprogramming such agents of torture. We can only make attempts at teaching them how to earn an allowance through chores, dole out Time Outs, or threaten to toss a much-beloved Hello Kitty collection in the recycling bin if you find finger-painted smiley faces on your fine china again just one more time.
We model appropriate cleaning habits, beg, and plead, but nothing makes our offspring stop the insanity.
I may not be exactly sure who’s behind this operation, but I’m hip to their game.
And I. Will. WIN.
Oh yeah. I have a plan.
From now on, I’m not cleaning a damn thing. Nope. I will walk out of the bathroom each morning, leaving behind my name written in toothpaste on the mirrors, and drop my soaking wet towel on the stairs.
I will harp on my kids to leave worn underpants on the kitchen table, inside-out knee socks in the hallway, and random pieces of board games scattered throughout the house.
I’ll make a pot of coffee, pour it evenly into fourteen cups, and leave them behind, under, and upside-down on upholstered furniture in various rooms.
I will pillage my jewelry box for the sharpest baubles and toss them like wedding aisle rose petals on the path we all walk barefoot at night.
I will create a home that reeks of sloth and FiberOne Bar crumbs, and only use my Indoor Voice when talking to myself throughout the process.
I will allow my filth to blend in with theirs to the point that they believe I want the house to look this way.
To cement this concept, I will hang new set of House Rules on the wall in the kitchen, reading it aloud to the kids while I simply tip over a box of Lucky Charms onto the table for them to sift through as breakfast:
I will spend my days yelling “Put that yogurt back in the DVD player right now, young lady!” and “I TOLD you to STOP it with the broom, mister!”
My footsteps across the kitchen will make the rustling music of discarded baseball card wrappers, dropped coffee grinds and one thousand Little Pet Shop critters swimming together in a sea of hygenic disregard.
Once the kids regroup and agree that my standards have indeed changed, that the house aesthetic is now “suburban train wreck,” and I truly want them to live like tiny slovenly cavemen, they will automatically start cleaning up after themselves just to piss me off.
Pretty soon they’ll be buffing the bathroom sinks to a high gloss and learning how to fold fitted sheets.
They’ll discreetly high-five one another as they pass in the hall: Him, on his way to take out the trash, her on her way to sort the Legos by color and shape.
I’ll grumble about all the spotless glasses in the cabinet and act infuriated over not finding fistfuls of Goldfish crackers in between the couch cushions, all while secretly pleased that I finally, after almost eight years at this parenting gig, got my offpring to do exactly what I wanted them to.
Sure, I’ll look (and smell) like a giant lady version of Pigpen for a while, but when I’m no longer drowning in dirty dishes while knee-deep in misplaced Happy Meal toys, I’ll be one happy mother.
Psychological warfare: Three can play at this game, kids.