The Audacity Of Hope

Sunday is allowance day at our house. Every week, we sit down for dinner and half-way through the kids 'gently remind' us that they haven't received their allowance yet by saying, "Hey, you owe us $5." They do this because they realize that we're A) old B) not elephants and C) off our fish oil supplements, and therefore have the memory of your common household door-stop.

Luckily for us, our eyeglass prescriptions are up-to-date, so we can see the mountains of boxers and socks piled up on the couch, the pencil shavings cleverly swept behind the trash can and the obscure hieroglyphics adorning the walls. And we giggle at our silly children and tell them to eat more broccoli.

It used to be that they were paid by the chore. If I've learned anything about men all these years, it's that the way to their heart is through their wallets. You want a man to do something? Pay him. Payment, of course, negotiable by age and relationship to you. My boys never wanted to be "good helpers to their momma!" like my daughter does...they wanted Pokemon cards. Lots and lots of Pokemon cards.

We had a massive dry erase board hung in their room with a column down the left of all the chores we'd like them to do, and a row across the top with the days of the week. It went a little something like this:


People, I write. I never said I could draw.

It taught them word recognition and addition and a little self-reliance. They filled out the chart all by themselves; I simply shelled out shiny quarters and head pats at week's end.

But now that they're older, they're not contracted laborers anymore...they are salaried employees. I'm not trying to get them in the habit of doing chores by bribing them anymore, I'm trying to instill the concept of a work. And if you don't do your job, all of it, bitch don't get paid, yo. So the days of "X chore=X dollar" are over, and the days of "You have five days to complete these four tasks" are upon us. They don't do all four? They don't get their allowance. Period. I suck.

But Captain Selective and his first mate, Memory, choose to forget this every week and instead take out the trash on Saturday night and then wait with hopeful hearts and outstretched hands for magical golden coins to fall from the sky. I keep trying to tell them that magical coins only fall from the sky when strangers wearing bedazzaled tights break into their rooms at night and steal their teeth, but for some reason, that just gives them nightmares. However, months weeks of no allowance are taking their toll, and my kids are starting to fight back. They are hoping against hope. They are getting cocky.

I found my oldest son's locker dry erase board hanging on the fridge, offered without comment, on Monday morning after he went off to school.



"Allowence: Put under magnet. I'll get it later."

Maybe the boy can't spell for shit, but he's got 'strong-armed negotiation of the terms of his own existence' down to a silent, arrogant artform.

Boudoir Is French For Weigh-Station

So, I'm making the bed in my room tonight at 8:15 and I'm mumbling to myself about how I shouldn't have to make it since I'm never the last one out of it.  I'm honestly just feeling guilty because it's the first time in years days that I've made the damn thing, and feeling kind of moronic to be making it three hours before I'm going to get back in it, and kind of annoyed with myself because who really, actually makes their bed anyway?

And then I realize that all the grown-ups make their beds and I just suck.

So I keep making it and I start thinking about Extreme Home Makeover and how they always make the master bedroom into an oasis or a sanctuary or a refuge or some shit.  There's always a reading area and a big-screen tv and gorgeous drapes and lush rugs and I wonder, do people really spend that much time in their bedrooms that they need all that?  Because if you do, sure, you probably want to make your bed once in a while.  My bedroom is on the 4th floor of my house and the only time I'm in there, I'm unconscious.  I have three children; it's not like I have time to just go lounge around in my room all day long.   And it's not as if anyone except my three year old ever walks past my door and peeks in, and if you do find yourself in the doorway to my bedroom there's a 99% chance you're up there to kill me and I really don't care if you have to trip over some laundry and rustle with the sheets in order to chop me into tiny bits with an old, rusty axe.

And before you say, "What about the ol' winkwink, nudgenudge?" I'll just say this: In my life, I have these two columns that I like to call Things I Will Do and Things I Won't Do and I'll give you three chances to guess which column "It; with the lights on" goes into.  If he's taking the time to stop, grab the night-vision goggles and check the state of the linens, he's doing it all wrong.

Now I do like my kids' beds to be made but the girl only has these two baby blankets so making hers is nothing and the boys have these ginorous loft beds and there are a few activities as equally futile as making ginormous loft beds that I occasional like to engage in, but every time I sit on the floor to converse with the toilet I notice that someone's dribbled peepee all down the sides of it and then I have to clean it, so I try to stay away from those sorts of things if at all possible.

I wish I were the sort of person who makes her bed everyday, but that would mean I'd have to be the sort of person who walks into her bedroom every day, and that's just not me.  I also wish I were the sort of person who folds the laundry right after she dries it, or the sort of person that washes the pan right after she cooks in it, and it occurs to me that if I were that sort of person my husband might suddenly become the sort of person who drags his wife into her bedroom randomly throughout the day.

But then the damn bed would never be made.