“Thank you for being so mean.”
That’s how it started out. The best phone call I ever got.
When my oldest daughter was in her last year of college, she called home one day. It went like this:
Daughter: Thanks, Mom, for being so mean and making us do all those chores. Now I understand why you made us clean all the time.
Me: You’re welcome. What’s up?
Daughter: I have the messiest roommate ever. She never picks up after herself and she never does any chores. We are always picking up her dirty dishes all over the house. She’s even broken most of my glasses and doesn’t even care. She doesn’t put away food or clean up after she fixes something and don’t even get me started on the bathroom. It’s gross.
It’s true. I’m mean. I am the meanest mom in the western hemisphere. I find out everything sooner or later, so there’s no point in trying to sneak it past me. Just ask my older kids; they’ll tell you it’s all true. The two younger ones have figured out the mean part and they’re finally starting to figure out the other part.
I make them do chores. I’ve made them all do chores since they were big enough to make the mess. Now before you get all bent about children not being old enough to clean, it wasn’t like I was having them scrub floors or bleach toilets before they were old enough to do those chores safely. But I did make them help pick up their toys, tidy up their bedrooms, hang up their towels and other small chores.
Does that mean I had a clean house by the time they were 10? Not a chance. It still gets really messy around here and it would never pass my mother-in-law’s inspection, but I know that they know the difference between a healthily clean house and unhealthy dirty one. And when the house really needs to be clean, they can get the job done.
It’s always nice to get the parental payoff. You know it’s going to come sooner or later. Have you gotten a parental payoff?