In case I drop dead shortly

There are things in this life I hope that my children will learn, but due to the various laws of parenting and physics, if/when I share these nuggets of wisdom with my cherished progeny, all they glean from it is “WAA WAA WAA WAA.”

While I hope to stick around on this mortal plane for a good long time, it is my one sincere and true hope that IF I happen to make an early exit, certain important lessons—those which just sounded like maternal nagging whilst I was still among the living—will finally seem worth learning through what I was able to leave behind.

Plus, if these children don’t start shaping up, I’ll be dead soon, anyway. That throbbing vein in my forehead can’t hold up forever. My guess is that I’m just three or four transgressions away from a stroke, so I’d better get this off my chest while I can still communicate clearly. (After this, I’m going to go practice tying my shoes. Just in case I survive the stroke but have trouble with my laces afterwards, it seems like a good idea to get in some extra practice.)

Dear Children,

I love you. I really, really do. However there are a few things we need to discuss.

Let’s start with the word “okay.” Although I much prefer the more formal “Yes, Ma’am” to this colloquialism, it is allowable so long as you understand its usage. Using it improperly, however, can be confusing to those around you. The word “okay” used as a response indicates the affirmative; you are agreeing to whatever is being proposed. Consider this illustrative example:

Person who does everything for you: Kids, come downstairs for breakfast!
You: Okay!

Here the word “okay” is being used properly, right? MAYBE. This is only proper usage when you then OBEY THE COMMAND GIVEN. Let’s substitute MEANING for the actual word to reveal exactly what I’m talking about, here.

Right:

Person who does everything for you: Kids, come downstairs for breakfast!
You: That’s a great idea and we are coming down right now!

Wrong:

Person who does everything for you: Kids, come downstairs for breakfast!
You: We’re going to respond with a meaningless word while we continue to run around half-dressed and never actually do what you told us to do. For added joy, after the third time we go through this little verbal farce, we shall act terribly wounded that you are now yelling.

I hope that clears things up for you, moving forward.

Furthermore, I would like to acquaint you with some of the finer points of living in a house with people who are neither your slaves nor psychic. Perhaps your recent stint of living on Planet Glipthorp rendered you unaccustomed to this foolish earthling custom of POLITE COMMUNICATION, but I trust that with some perseverance you’ll adapt.

Again, let’s turn to some examples to see if we can glean the basic principles.

Right:

You: Our hamper is looking quite full, what with all of the dirty laundry we have placed within it, so I brought it downstairs for you.
Person who does everything for you: Thank you very much!

Wrong:

You: I DON’T HAVE ANY SOCKS!!
Person who does everything for you: … what do you mean, you don’t have any socks?
You: SOCKS! I DON’T HAVE ANY IN MY DRAWER! AAAAAHHHHHH!
Person who does everything for you: I just did the laundry. Where are all of your socks?
You: They’re under the bed! I NEED CLEAN SOCKS!
Person who does everything for you:
You: WHY DIDN’T YOU WASH MY SOCKS???
Person who does everything for you:
You: WHY ARE YOU BEING SO MEAN TO ME???
Person who does everything for you:

In the foregoing example, there is a two-step process required. First, you must put your own damn socks into the hamper. Second, you must alert the management when you are running low. I think you’ll find this method completely doable with diligent practice.

Let’s try another one.

Right:

You: That was a delicious lunch you packed for me today. I really enjoyed it. Thank you!
Person who does everything for you: You’re very welcome. Here, have a cookie.

Wrong:

You: Why did you pack me TURKEY?
Person who does everything for you: Um, because you LIKE turkey?
You: No, I don’t like turkey on a PITA. I only like it on bread, or plain.
Person who does everything for you: So you took it out of the pita to eat it…?
You: No, I just threw it away.
Person who does everything for you:
You: Try to get it right next time.
Person who does everything for you:
You: Also that was the wrong kind of dip for my carrots.
Person who does everything for you:
You: I wish I could get hot lunch.
Person who does everything for you: ….

Here, you have two choices. You can learn how to be a grateful human being, maybe even—dare I say it?—a less picky human, too, or you can PACK YOUR OWN DAMN LUNCH. And then die of scurvy or rickets because you eat nothing but pretzels for 233 days in a row.

There is just one more lesson I hope you might internalize upon my untimely passing, children, and that is that siblings are forever. May you be one another’s best friend, moving forward, as that’s the sort of gift that will bless you for a lifetime. You do need just a little work in this area, as well, of course.

Right:

You: Can you help me with this?
Sibling: Sure! Here you go.
You: Thanks! You’re the best.
Sibling: No, YOU are!

Wrong:

You: Can you help me with this?
Sibling: Sure! Right after I dance around tormenting you for a while, and call you stupid.
You: I’M TELLING! And while I’m at it I’m going to tattle on the last 57 things you did that I’d forgotten about. Let me get my list, this is gonna take a while.
Sibling: I am plotting my revenge, even now.

I know it’s a subtle distinction, but again, perhaps knowing that this was part of your mother’s dying wishes for you will lend the necessary motivation to work at these little nuances.

Have a wonderful life, kids, and know that I’LL BE WATCHING YOU (cuz that’s not creepy at all),
Mom

[Note to the applicable adults: Please see that the children receive these instructions upon my unfortunate demise. You even have my permission to throw in a “NOW look what you did!” along with it.]

51 Responses to “In case I drop dead shortly”

  1. 1
    Leandra September 20, 2007 at 10:06 am #

    And how about a “Your mother would be SOOO disappointed” while we’re at it? ;)

    Here’s how it goes at our house:
    Bubba: Mommie, what are we having for dinner?
    Personal chef: Quiche/chicken/tacos/whatever
    Bubba: YUCK! (standard reply, no matter what we’re having.

    I finally got so sick of it that I told him HE could start cooking dinner every night. That sorta worked. For a while. Now we’re back to yuck.

  2. 2
    Sara September 20, 2007 at 10:06 am #

    I would like to copy, print, enlarge by ten bajillion and use this as wallcovering in my children’s bedrooms. Do you think they might take the hint? Yeah, you’re right. They’d probably just complain that while I was papering their walls I forgot to put their underwear and socks in the laundry.

  3. 3
    Heather Cook September 20, 2007 at 10:09 am #

    The “management” quotes are eerily familiar. Do you have one for the co-manager? I need some translation for him…

  4. 4
    All Adither September 20, 2007 at 10:09 am #

    All good lessons. I will print this for my offspring and pass it off as my own.

    Thank you. ;)

  5. 5
    Sheila September 20, 2007 at 10:10 am #

    If I were closer, I’d pass the wine bottle RIGHT NOW and we’d have a good laugh and commiserate. Perhaps when we meet at the Pearly Gates (which, for me too, could be any day now)…

  6. 6
    jess September 20, 2007 at 10:12 am #

    Man, if my parents had listed it out this way, there might have been a lot less yelling in our house.

    Then again, maybe not. I wasn’t into right/wrong lists when I was a kid. Of course, I was doing my own laundry at seven, after my mom turned a bunch of my whites into pinks and I decided I didn’t like pink socks (and hate PINK in general).

    I HAD to eat hot lunch (wasn’t allowed to take it. Don’t ask–my mom was a bit nuts, literally–and things were weird in my house for most of my childhood) and it was definitely not all it’s apparently cracked up to be. Ugh.

  7. 7
    Jenn September 20, 2007 at 10:21 am #

    Sadly, when it comes to laundry, my husband hasn’t learned this lesson and tends to inform me at 11:30 at night that he doesn’t have any boxers for the next day.

  8. 8
    Burgh Baby's Mom September 20, 2007 at 10:23 am #

    I’m with Jess–hot lunch was a mandatory for me. It didn’t matter what was on the menu, elephant ears (aka large, sugar-covered deep-fried donuts), bologna boats (go ahead, use your imagination on that one), or fish (*shudder*), I was stuck with it. I was SO jealous of the kids that got to bring their lunch.

  9. 9
    Not The Mama September 20, 2007 at 10:23 am #

    I know I shouldn’t laugh at that throbbing vein in your forehead, but I can’t help it. You captured the frustration and language barrier so perfectly that I was frustrated for you just reading it!

  10. 10
    AmyM September 20, 2007 at 10:45 am #

    Hey! How’d you get MY kids?
    It’s amazing how they all operate on pretty much the same level.
    So funny!

  11. 11
    Beth September 20, 2007 at 11:02 am #

    No different when they get older, really. You can pretty much insert the words “roommate” “spouse” “co-worker” with the same results. I hate to say it, but for a species that is supposedly so cool because of its ability to communicate, we suck at it!

    Hang in there — and don’t let your mother’s giggling in the background (I thought I heard something about “payback”) get to you ;-)

  12. 12
    hokgardner September 20, 2007 at 11:04 am #

    Oh it’s such a relief, in a misery-loves-company sort of way to know that my house is like yours.

  13. 13
    Summer September 20, 2007 at 11:10 am #

    I think I had a communication breakthrough with my son the other day. It went something like this….

    ME: Put that race car down and go to the bathroom. We need to brush your teeth before we leave for school.

    SON: (continues to play with car)

    ME: Put that car down and go to the bathroom NOW.

    SON: (continues to play with car)

    ME: How many times am I going to have to ask you?

    SON: Five.

    ME: GoToTheBathroomNow. GoToTheBathroomNow. GoToTheBathroomNow. I already asked you twice, so that’s five.

    SON: (puts down car and walks to bathroom)

    Now if I could just get him to stop using his sleeve as a napkin and/or tissue….

  14. 14
    Flea September 20, 2007 at 11:10 am #

    Apparently I’m a bad mother. I make my children do their own laundry – when they run out of socks it’s their fault. They make their own lunches – if they don’t like it it’s their fault. If they want hot lunch, they use the allowance they get from doing chores. I’m a lazy, lazy woman. And they find other things to whine about, believe you me.

  15. 15
    jennielynn September 20, 2007 at 11:11 am #

    I was SO grateful when Drama Queen entered middle school and the coolest thing to eat was Cup O’ Noodle. Yes, it’s nutrionally void, but it’s cheap and she actually eats it. Instead of throwing away everything but the cookie and drink.

    Nice to know other children have expectations of psychic mothers. I think it comes from the “I know your lying, so don’t even bother,” experience. If we can read their mind then, why not when socks need washing and food preferences take a sudden turn?

  16. 16
    LuAnn September 20, 2007 at 11:11 am #

    I think this entry is going to be required reading in our homeschool this week!

  17. 17
    Kristi September 20, 2007 at 11:33 am #

    And can you remind me–Just WHY do we have kids?

  18. 18
    Cele September 20, 2007 at 11:38 am #

    Flea ad I have laundry in common. I got so extremely tired of finding fresh laundered clothes under the bed, in the middle of the floor (they were in the way of her pile of books on her bed), in the hamper I blew. She washed her own clothes. Same with lunch, I made her make her own if she was going to gripe about what I made. hmmmm her version looked so familiar.

  19. 19
    Anna September 20, 2007 at 12:25 pm #

    I can hardly wait until they are teenagers.

  20. 20
    Lisa September 20, 2007 at 12:32 pm #

    Oh, I could have written this, only I am not that good of a writer. But I live it!

  21. 21
    StephLove September 20, 2007 at 1:02 pm #

    ME: GoToTheBathroomNow. GoToTheBathroomNow. GoToTheBathroomNow. I already asked you twice, so that’s five.

    SON: (puts down car and walks to bathroom)>>

    This is EXACTLY how partner gets son to brush his teeth at night, every night. It’s even five times. Spooky.

  22. 22
    Eskinose Kisses September 20, 2007 at 1:29 pm #

    You guys are way nicer mommies than I am. If one of my kids told me I had to tell them to do something 5 times before they would do it, I would have to start with “You’re grounded this afternoon for being sassy” 5 times….and go from there….

    Mean, mean mama! ;o)

  23. 23
    Katie September 20, 2007 at 1:35 pm #

    I love it here. I have exactly the same gripes and you write it so much more eloquently.

    Besides only the good die young, we (and our rotten children) have long full lives ahead of us to drive each other insane.

  24. 24
    Megan September 20, 2007 at 1:40 pm #

    Mine are older (NOT wiser, NOT more mature, just older – larger and smellier basically) so at least they do their own laundry (prompted heavily) and… eventually remove it from the dryer and… slowly migrate it into their rooms. However we are still having daily conversations that go:

    Me: Children, I got up this morning to a messy kitchen and an untidy living room. I made several dire threats and you know what? I came home to a messier kitchen and an untidy living room. I shall now figure out which of those threats I’m not too lazy to carry out.

    Child 1: I TOLD them to clean up! (way to shift the blame Child 1 – it would work if I wasn’t looking at the hoodie I told you to put away yesterday)
    Child 2: I DID clean up – see? I threw away my burrito wrapper! (Ah, yes but you didn’t put away your dishes… wash your pan…)
    Child 3: You threatened us? This morning? Really? Wow! Know what? I can’t remember anything until third hour at school – isn’t that cool?

  25. 25
    Wendy September 20, 2007 at 1:40 pm #

    I think a better way to get your point across is to leave them crying, hungry and sockless our in the back yard. At least that is what I do as I am polishing my Mother of the Year award. :)

  26. 26
    Beth September 20, 2007 at 1:50 pm #

    OMG! Megan — I was SOOOO Child 3 in your scenario! Except that I was also Child 1 and Child 2. Only kids have to cover a lot of maternal-brain-hemorrhage-causing territory ;-)

    And I agree with you, Katie — I love it here ;-)

  27. 27
    carrien September 20, 2007 at 2:16 pm #

    COnversation with my DH last night.

    DH: Do I have any clean clothes?

    ME: I just washed every thing in all of the hampers and it is laying around here in neatly folded piles on it’s way to closets.

    DH: I don’t see my pants or shirts.

    ME: I washed EVERYTHING in the hampers.

    GH: Oh well mine were laying on the floor next to the bed, and the rest are in my car.

    ME: !!!!

    ME: I guess you don’t have any clean clothes then. Maybe you should put them in the hamper.

    DH: I don’t put them in the hamper so I have them to wear later because if I put them in the hamper I have to wait until you wash them to wear them.

    ME: I do ALL the laundry in the hampers once a week, you have more clothes than I do, how is this possibly a problem?

    DH:….

    ME: good luck with your dirty clothes

    This is probably the 500 time we’ve had this conversation. Am I stubborn for refusing to sort through the piles on the floor and carry all of his clothing in from the car?

  28. 28
    MsRebecca September 20, 2007 at 2:23 pm #

    If you don’t wash the dishes= you don’t eat
    If you don’t want to clean up after yourself= find another place to live

    They’re not abiding by the rules!!!

    :P

  29. 29
    BethR September 20, 2007 at 2:32 pm #

    My personal favorite conversation ever:

    Me: Oh good, you’re dressed. Now please put on your shoes.
    Child: Where are my shoes?
    Me: Wherever you left them last night. Oh, there they are, next to the table. Please put them on.
    Me:
    Me: Honey, PLEASE PUT ON YOUR SHOES.
    Child: I can’t find them.
    Me: I told you just now, they’re next to the table.
    Child: I can’t see them. *
    Me: They are on THIS side of the table. If I say they’re next to the table, look on ALL SIDES OF THE TABLE before you give up!
    Child: … You are the meanest mommy ever.

    I swear, aren’t children supposed to get object permanence when they’re, like, a year old? How can they not understand if shoes are covered by something or behind something, you may need to circle or lift the obstructing object before the shoes become visible?

    * Occasional variation: “What table?” There is only one table in the room where we usually have this conversation.

  30. 30
    el-e-e September 20, 2007 at 2:55 pm #

    It’s like Goofus and Gallant pages in Highlights! The RIGHT way, and the… USUAL way.

  31. 31
    Hamiam September 20, 2007 at 3:51 pm #

    Duuuuuuude!! It’s so much like my life that I had to pay homage…Mir is a genius…Withhout further ado, please go read. Then bob your head emphatically at the “OMG! That is SOOOOOOOOOO my life” factor…

  32. 32
    Amy-Go September 20, 2007 at 5:14 pm #

    When were you here spying on us?

  33. 33
    Fannie Mae September 20, 2007 at 5:19 pm #

    Sullen Teenager: I can’t find my
    a. shoes
    b. uniform
    c. phone

    Me:
    a. I know where they SHOULD be (on the shoe rack)
    b. I know where it SHOULD be (in your closet)
    c. I know where it SHOULD be (in the charger)

    every.damn.day. GAAHH!!

  34. 34
    Vane September 20, 2007 at 6:24 pm #

    Just goes to prove that children are the same all around the globe!! Translate the given conversation samples into spanish and there you go! You have my princess and me!

    Glad to know I’m not all alone in this :)

    Regards from Mexico.

  35. 35
    Jessica September 20, 2007 at 7:06 pm #

    DH: Where are my boxers?
    Me: I washed all the clothes last night, your boxers are in your underwear drawer.
    DH: Can you get me some socks?
    Me: They are right next to your underwear.
    DH: Not those socks.
    Me (To 3 year old): Jason, do NOT put that in the light socket. WHAT SOCKS?
    DH: I want boot socks because I’m going hunting.
    Me: Jason put down the knife!!! Your boot socks are in your boots.
    DH: Oh, where’s my hat?
    Me: Jason, stop NOW. TIME OUT!
    DH: Stop yelling.
    Me: TIME OUT DH!!
    DH: I never have clean clothes.
    Me: You never wash clothes. I always have clean clothes….
    DH: Make Jason stop that.
    Me: Jason stop that. Get in the time out chair now.
    Jason: No, I not.
    Me: (Grabs Jasona and escorts him to time out chair)
    DH: I’m going now, make sure you wash the dishes and cook and clean and wash my clothes and lay them out for me because if you don’t I’ll have to go around naked for the entire day because I can’t possibly dress myself.

    LOL, sorry, I’m ranting. I know. I just feel like I dress three people a day: myself, my three year old and my thirty year old. I can’t wait until I have another.

  36. 36
    Tracey September 20, 2007 at 7:25 pm #

    Oh eerily familiar. Substitute “Go to bed” for that first one, and you have our house last night and in fact most nights. (And given those two are 14 and 12, don’t think you’re going to be getting out of this problem anytime soon!)
    And, yes, the clothes thing. I’ve had the accusations, and you should hear me explode. The only thing that stops me making them do their own washing is the water wastage.

  37. 37
    amy September 20, 2007 at 7:25 pm #

    These were all classics — I have been laughing so hard. My favorite one was with our then 13 year old daughter. She is a bit better now that she is 19 and in college:

    ME: Hi, honey, how are you? (after not seeing her all day)
    DD: OH MOTHER. YOU ARE SO NOSY!!!!!!
    ME: (what the ?%$#? I wondered inside my own head…) I honestly had no idea what to say to that for about 10 seconds….Then I am certain you can guess the rest!

  38. 38
    Dawn September 20, 2007 at 7:44 pm #

    Ack. You just described life around here not too long ago.

    There is a downside to having them do laundry, though. Mine would usually only wash their own clothes, so it took many more washer loads to get the same amount of clothing washed, which wasted detergent, water and electricity. And then there was the occasional item of mine that got stretched or shrunk beyond all recognition…

    I actually used to have arguements with mine trying to convince them to NOT do any laundry.

    Lunches, though, they were free to go nuts with.

  39. 39
    liz September 20, 2007 at 9:41 pm #

    My child is too young right now for me to be living this, so I guess I know what I have to look forward to.
    I LOVE your children. I truly, truly do, and I’ve spent time with them in person. However, can I just tell you how proud I am of you to reply “…” to “Try to get it right next time.” I don’t think I could have shown that much restraint.
    Of course, I’m not exactly sure how to pronounce “…” either.

  40. 40
    Jenifer September 20, 2007 at 10:29 pm #

    I am so looking forward to the next 18 years :)

    H.E.L.P.

  41. 41
    Kellan Rhodes September 20, 2007 at 10:37 pm #

    I love the WA WA WA part. My friend Pam and I use this all the time when our husbands start talking about technical stuff – we always look at each other and say, “WA,WA,WA,” (like on Charlie Brown) – I love it!

  42. 42
    Susan September 20, 2007 at 11:09 pm #

    Can I borrow this?

  43. 43
    Barb Cooper September 20, 2007 at 11:12 pm #

    I’ve been helping my first grader’s class with a writing project where theya re writing about their families. Today I had a little girl who wrote, “My mom is nice. She loves the computer and cleaning.”

    See, I think maybe they think we live for this kind of interaction.

  44. 44
    Flea September 20, 2007 at 11:47 pm #

    See, my kids only do laundry once a week. Even if they don’t have enough clothes to fill a load (which is a laugh – can we say Tough Enough to Overstuff?), I spend the week tossing in kitchen towels, bath towels and cloth napkins (I’m cheap, okay?). They toss their stuff in on that and have a full load. And I don’t have to launder the bits and pieces! Yay!

    The down side is the pile of clean linens they leave piled on my favorite chair.

  45. 45
    SummerM September 20, 2007 at 11:58 pm #

    Is it aceptable to laugh because my kids are asleep and therefore not making my head explode? Because if so I’m giggling as I type.

  46. 46
    Heather September 21, 2007 at 3:43 am #

    Sometimes reading over here makes me really scared to have kids :P Of course, it also makes me laugh my head off, so it sorta evens out.

  47. 47
    nan September 21, 2007 at 7:09 am #

    It must be in the air! This week, I stopped getting the boys’ socks out of the car. (and waterbottles, garbage, books, notes from school etc). I did not say a WORD to remind them to clean out the car. Finally, there were no socks left, and there was a great gnashing and wailing. They had to go to school in smelly, dirty, under-the-seat-of-the-car socks! That afternoon, my car was magically wiped, vacuumed, the laundry put IN the washing machine! I gotta do nothing more often!

  48. 48
    Andrea September 21, 2007 at 7:47 am #

    This post rings SO true in so many of our homes! Thanks for capturing it, Mir! I have shared this with friends all across the country and we were all cracking up and nodding. One of my friends said “I seriously could have written that myself. Well, if I was funny…”

  49. 49
    jo-less September 21, 2007 at 9:15 am #

    Haha, this all makes me laugh a lot :-) I do most of the washing since it’s easier to do it all at once but I refuse to wash anything that isn’t in the basket. My GF is nearly 30 with an Engineering Degree and a 50kGBP a year job, if she can’t figure out how to open the lid and put her socks in by now…..

  50. 50
    Jan in Norman OK September 21, 2007 at 9:26 am #

    Substitute faculty members and graduate students for the children and spouses and you have my life.

  51. 51
    marsha September 28, 2007 at 4:11 pm #

    You life sounds so familiar…I have kids…we have similar issues…who would have thought?

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