We Need to Talk
posted by: Guest Blogger
If you think the words “we need to talk” strike fear in the hearts of men everywhere, you should try them on your children.
“We need to talk,” I said, when all three children came home from school. The panicked look on their faces was hard to miss. Gathering everyone into the living room for an impromptu meeting, I had my speech completely mapped out and ready to deliver, and there was no way I would be weakened by tears or put off with the perfected rolling of eyes.
“I’m not your maid,” I began, stopping long enough to allow the moaning to come to an end. Yes, they knew what was coming. “I did not give birth to you children so I could run behind you and pick up your dirty socks, your book bags, your crayons, your shoes, your blankets, your toys or anything else you own. I happen to have wanted children because I knew I would love you and enjoy you every single day of your lives. However, I do not enjoy the assumption that I’m your maid.”
Just as I knew would happen, Brian immediately began nervously twirling his hair, Stacey was working hard to produce her famous crocodile tears, and Scott was already throwing his head back, making that clucking sound every parent is familiar with — the one that insinuates we’re wasting precious moments of said child’s life.
I went on for a half hour about how things better shape up, especially now that I was working away from home again. I even went so far as to tell them how much work I had to do at their ages and how their chores are nothing compared to what I went through. As all parents know, this goes over just about as well as the speech about walking to school in the snow…barefoot…10 miles…up a hill…both ways…blah blah blah. But I tried it regardless. I just wanted them to understand I need their help and that I would not be the only team player on this family team of ours.
Right away, Brian and Stacey jumped up and began performing above and beyond what I had asked of them, dragging the hamper to the laundry room, asking me if every piece of paper in my office was garbage or not (no matter that I specifically noted my office is always off limits to any and all cleaning attempts), and generally going overboard in their enthusiasm to please. Scott, meanwhile, sulked away to his room, I’m sure to map out an extensive plan on how to join yet another club so he’d never be home long enough to be required to do a thing.
The next day, when they left for school, all lights had been turned off, dirty clothes were picked up, and the house looked as peaceful as it was before I awakened them. I smiled smugly.
The following day, though, all was the same as before. The way I figure it, with practice, I can cut the “we need to talk” lecture into a five-minute-every-other-day event, and the house should be a well-oiled running machine in no time. Or not.