Day 3: War Games

When we last left off, the view from the boys' toilet had improved markedly.  No clothes on the floor and the new magazines I had so generously placed for them on the stool remained there.  The stool had been pulled in front of the toilet but hey, this is serious progress.

At that point, my pal Mizmell chimed in with the following suggestion:

Must be a generational divide or
something. I go through the same thing with my 24 year old daughter.
The floor is the catch all these days.

I'm not so sure about this since I am quite confident I was just as big a slob as my children are now when I was their age. 

Then Meno brought up an interesting point:

Yes, but who's car is he heading out in?

This referred to the fact that I had said the "You can have X thing that you want after your pick your shit up off the floor" argument wouldn't really work in our case since my kids didn't really have to ask me for things anymore. 

It is absolutely true that the car is ours and we could insist he not go anywhere until the clothes/books/dirty socks/ you-don't-want-to-know-and-neither-do-I  are picked up.  But I'm reluctant to take this approach for a couple of reasons that I think are worth considering. 

First, going to the "that car doesn't belong to you" and "driving is a privilege, not a right" place is the parenting equivalent of Defcon 2 (what does Defcon stand for anyway?).  And while I care about this issue, I don't care enough to get the missiles out and pointed in the direction of the boys' bathroom.  You can file this choice under a)picking my battles wisely or b)being too burned out after 20 years of parenting to care that much.  Second, and perhaps more profound, I want to see what happens if I underparent this dilemma, and that means doing as little as possible.  Getting into fights about the socks vs the car is a lot of work.  Seriously.  There's the shouting and the door slamming and, my personal favorite, the "I HATE you"s to contend with.

So, what what was the view from the john the next morning?  This…


and in case you were wondering about which one made the floor..


So much for rowing's future.

I picked up the offending copy of rowing news and hid it…where DID I hide it? In its place, I left a week old copy of the Week.  This worked for me on multiple levels. I wanted to see what would happen if I upped the reading material level within arms length of the john and I don't want old magazines cluttering up the living room.

That evening, I happened to make another visit to the boys bathroom.  And what to my wondering eyes did appear?


Check it out. Oh yeah…


Oh happy day.  Someone is reading about Rahm Emanuel!  And it's not on the floor.

I'd weep with happiness, but I have been at this game a long time and will hold my tears to see what tomorrow morning will bring…

One last note: since the conversation over breakfast in which I laid out the "I'll pick up what you leave but you'll have to pay to get it back" plan, not a single word has been exchanged on this topic.  There have been no questions about what happened to their stuff, or how the new magazines got there, or what is the future of rowing, anyway.  Perhaps more important, I have not wasted a single bit of effort nagging, browbeating, yelling or otherwise, uh, conversing about the topic.

All I've done is blog about it.

3 thoughts on “Day 3: War Games

  1. It kind of gets you to the same place but what if they just plain haven’t noticed? Or maybe they’ve put it down to the tidy elves that moved out age whatever moving back in? Possibly I should document the state of our kitchen table.

  2. War Games. 🙂
    See, now … that’s what we realized we didn’t want. The adversarial relationship with our kids. I mean, in a relationship like that, the parents always have the power. It’s just a matter of choosing your weapons. Power always “works” to change the behavior — when little power doesn’t work, things escalate to Big Power, but power always wins. (Until kids move away and do what they want, finally. Then, heh, they have the Power. And what a lesson for parents that is!)
    We wanted to explore parenting with cooperation, respect, consideration for others, and meeting everyone’s needs. Sounds weird, huh?
    It’s been about 10 or 11 years since we made those things our focus.
    It ain’t easy sometimes, but the family harmony and trust is worth it, and it get’s easier as we go.

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