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Modern Morning Struggles

We have a busy house: two (technically three) adults and five (technically four) children. We also have a dog, a cat, and numerous visitors that come by, some of them stay overnight. We don’t mind it. Wife and I have always said we wanted to have “that house” in the neighborhood where kids are always over playing and people are constantly visiting.

The one downside to the high-traffic lifestyle is the upkeep required of a house with five (or four) children and two pets, one of whom isn’t quite housebroken. One of my first jobs was at a restaurant where I washed dishes and bussed tables. Some days, working at that restaurant all day or night was easier than preparing a meal or cleaning up after said meal.

As part of preparing our Miracles of Christ for adulthood, we assign everyone tasks and chores. This also lessens the burden on one or two people. Everyone, even The Boy, has a task that changes every week or two so people don’t feel like they’re stuck with the worst job in the house forever. Some chores are easier than others. Some children are better than others.

I’ve referenced the children and their given chores many times before. We’ve had mornings digging through drawers and piles of clean clothes downstairs for socks. We’ve washed dishes and silverware just before sitting down to dinner. I have repeatedly asked, “Who has (fill in the blank with a chore)?” as a way of reminding our miserable little darlings that they are charged with a certain responsibility and their services are desperately needed at that moment.

Wife and I have stepped in more than a few times to prevent the ever-growing mountain of clothes and/or dishes from falling down upon us or our loved ones. People get busy. Children are in school. Two of the children work. Two others play sports. Wife works. I chauffeur children to school, work, sports, doctor’s appointments, as well as handle grocery shopping and handling whatever pick-ups and drop-offs are required depending on the day. Like I said, people get busy.

My bedroom on a typical morning.

As busy, as it gets, wife and I are still confused as to how things can sometimes get so out of control. You see, this was never a problem when I was a deferential, obedient child. To learn responsibilities, my parents gave me chores to do like a lot of children get as they are growing up. These chores were done quickly and without hesitation. It was usually after school. A typical day went like this: I would make up (on my own) and make my bed. After getting dressed, I would go downstairs and say, “Good morning,” to my parents. I would eat my breakfast. After breakfast, I would put my things in the dishwasher without being asked, go back upstairs and get dressed, brush my hair, brush my teeth. I would spend the remainder of the morning straightening out my room and making sure everything was in place, especially my work area when it was time to do my homework after school.

Today it’s different. Today, I go into my children’s rooms and try to wake them up. They roll over and pull the covers over their head. When I try to nudge them and tell them they have to wake up and get ready for school, they groan and curse my name. They inform me they don’t want to get up and they won’t get up. Finally, they begrudgingly trudge into the kitchen wrapped in a blanket. They rest their head on their hand, elbow on the table and demand to know what’s for breakfast. Loyal readers and other struggling parents know the daily menu is never up to snuff. From there, it’s back to their rooms to get dressed.

I was out the door ready to walk to school as a child. I would get there with time to spare. I wasn’t barefoot and it wasn’t uphill, but it was nice to be able to get some exercise and fresh air before my day at Academia.

Nowadays, I let the cherubim know I will be in the car and we are leaving in two minutes. This announcement is always preceded by five-and-ten-minute warnings. After waiting in the car and wondering why there is no activity progressing from upstairs to downstairs to the porch out the door and to the car, I go back inside. One child is under a bed looking for shoes. Another doesn’t have socks to wear. They do have socks but not the right ones. This always baffles me since it’s cool now to wear mismatched socks and your pants have to be short so everyone can see you’re wearing mismatched socks. If that’s the case, why, then, does it matter what socks you’re wearing. “It just does,” is the answer I get as the children are forcefully marched to the car for the transport to prison – I mean, school. Along the way, there are complaints of the heated seats not being turned on and the lack of quality programming on the radio.

I would arrive to school early and ready to learn. My coat and bag were meticulously hung up and I would be at my desk with books and work properly put away and necessary materials out on my desk. Pencil sharpened, eyes on paper, mind on the moment. All of this is true. I’d tell you to ask my parents, but they’re very busy these days. Very, very busy.

Nowadays, we get to school just before the bell rings. Children tumble out of the car, still complaining about the cold seats and how they were rushed out of the house with empty stomachs. They carry on to school, looking for a classmate or an adult they can complain to. Hopefully, one of these adults will take pity on them and my children can live with these kind souls who obviously know how to treat children. No such luck. The best my children can hope for is a sympathetic ear. I call back to the Miracles of Christ for them to return to the car for the snack they left in the car or the folder that fell out of their bag. They roll their eyes and begrudgingly return for their forgotten personal effects. Of course, I should have seen all of this before they left the car. I return home to do my own work, or maybe clean up a mess.

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