Our House, In the Middle of the Living Room
My Writing Process. Let Me Show You It.

The Helpful Games

IN WHICH I POWER-RANK MY CHILDREN IN ORDER OF THEIR GENERAL USEFULNESS AROUND THE HOUSE

ROUND ONE: CLEANING UP TOYS

Okay guys, we need to clean up the Legos. Every single Lego needs to get picked up and put in the blue Lego bag over there. Got it? Go.

EZRA

Sits down, then puts forehead on floor. Sl-o-o-w-ly picks up a single, solitary Lego brick. Scoots belly-down like a slug over to Lego bag. Sits up, stares at ceiling. Holds hand over bag and lets Lego fall through fingers. Lego hits the bag and immediately bounces back out onto floor. Collapses in exhaustion. 

Score: 1/5

NOAH

This is going to take forever. FOREVER. How long is this going to take? FOREVER. I never get to do anything because I have to clean up all the time and also FOREVER. I'm not cleaning those Legos up because I'm still playing with them. And I'm not cleaning those Legos up because even though they are right in front of me I have gone selectively blind. I will clean those Legos up, at least, but only after I've spent 10 minutes complaining about them, which equals approximately three-and-a-half FOREVERS.

Score: 3/5

IKE

Hurls Legos to floor, runs. Has Legos in mouth, probably.

Score: 0/5

ROUND TWO: HAND ME THAT THING

Okay guys, hand me that thing. That thing right in front of you. Right, that thing. 

EZRA

Hands me that thing, immediately and enthusiastically, but knocks over an entire cup of juice in the process.

Score: 3/5

NOAH

What thing? This thing?

Me: NO, WRONG THING. 

What is a thing?

Me: *EXPLAINS THING* 

What does a thing look like?

Me: *DESCRIBES THING; COLOR, PURPOSE, MATERIAL, ETC.*

Where is the thing?

Me: RIGHT THERE, IN FRONT OF YOU.

Oh! Okay. One minute.

*leaves, heads to bathroom, brings back the sink drain stopper*

This thing?

Score: 1/5, for effort

IKE

Hurls thing to floor, runs. Has other thing that I need in mouth, probably.

Score: 0/5

ROUND THREE: OH LAWDY IT'S A JUICE SPILL

Okay guys, someone's spilled some juice. What do you do?

EZRA 

Is totally the one who spilled the juice. Will totally sit there and do nothing (while sitting in bonus puddle of maple syrup that will also go unnoticed and undealt-with). When asked what they teach him at that fancy-pants Montessori school that he and a good deal of our money go to everyday, will respond by getting a towel and throwing it sort-of in the direction of the spill. Will then tap towel with foot before recoiling in sticky disgust and return to his syrup-covered seat.

Score: 1/5

NOAH

Ezra spilled his juice Ezra spilled his juice Mom Mom Mom Ezra spilled his juice Mom it's going everywhere oh no Mom Mom Mom Ezra spilled his juice it's on the floor now too Mom Mom Mom Mom.

Score: 1/5, mostly for the Amy Poehler impression

IKE

Hurls spill-proof sippy cup to the floor, because THAT'S how you don't spill juice, bitches. Not sure what your damage is.

Score: 1/5

ROUND FOUR: THROW THIS OUT

Okay guys, we've cleaned up the juice spill with some paper towels. Please throw them out.

EZRA

Gets immediately and irrationally attached to Mister Paper Towel Wad. Mister Paper Towel Wad is later found in his backback/lunchbox/"house"/bed, covered in ants.

Score: 0/5

NOAH

After a five-minute lecture about the environment and whether or not we can reuse Mister Paper Towel Wad, followed by another five minutes of anxiety over whether or not Mister Paper Towel Wad would be recyled as another paper towel specifically and not something different, I give up and throw Mister Fucking Paper Towel Wad into the trash myself, then lie about sending him upstate to live on a nice big paper towel farm. 

Score: 0/5

IKE

Happily and joyfully throws it out. Because throwing things out is his FAVORITE. Things that he also threw out today include a perfectly serviceable sippy cup, my good nail file, Legos, four unopened cans of tuna fish and our voter registration forms.

Score: 4/5

ROUND FIVE: PUT YO SHOES ON

Okay guys, it's time to go. Put yo shoes on.

EZRA

Okay! 

*gets sneakers, puts them on*

No, these are for Friday, when I am a grown-up.

*takes sneakers off, puts Crocs on*

No, it is raining today. 

*takes Crocs off, puts rainboots on*

Me: PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS NOT RAINING.

*takes rainboots off, puts snowboots on*

Me: PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS 70 DEGR- AW FUCK IT. GOOD JOB, EZ!

Score: 5/5

NOAH

Where are my shoes where are my shoes I can't find my shoes where did I leave my shoes oh no my shoes are gone FOREVER and I will never find them FOREVER AGAIN I'm just not going anywhere ever and

*trips over shoes sitting in plain sight, in middle of living room floor*

Oh hey I found them Mom!

Me: GOOD JOB, NOAH!

Score: 5/5

IKE

Shhz? Shhz! Shhz shhz go bye car shhz! 

*actually goes and gets his shhz, tries valiantly to put them on himself before bringing them to me*

Hawp? Shhz? Mama? Mama hawp shhz?

Score: 5/5, because ADORABLE 

RESULTS:

10 points each out of a possible 25. Three-way tie. Overall usefulness around the house still woefully subpar, but hey, at least they are all super-cute. 

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Comments

Tammy

Sooooo funny! And very entertaining and adorable!!!!

heidi

Oh how I wish this changed as they got older and less cute. Unfortunately, at 12, 14, 16 & 18 things are remarkably similar.

jodifur

Michael constantly tells me he wouldn't have to clean if he had a brother. I plan on reading him this next time this comes up.

norm

I know I've said this before but I'm allowed to change my mind - this is my favorite post of yours of all time. FAVORITE. Next time someone asks me, "what's it like to have three small children?" I am pointing them to this post. <3.

Claire

Love this! My son is simply a demon untidier in a very cute exterior. I doubt the arrival of his sister will change a thing. Yet another thing to add to the 'dear god what was I thinking' list.

Jennifer

Long-time lurker, first-time commenter...

I can so relate. I have three girls. 4 y/o, 3 y/o, and 5 m/o. The youngest gets all the points for being cute AND immobile.

Kristin

Loved this! I can so relate.

Cara

I want a video of the "Shhz? Shhz! Shhz shhz go bye car shhz!" bit!

Also, with those faces, they can get away with anything.

Wendy

If the toys are not pick up and put away before bed, the toy monster takes them (for a few days and then they reappear in the toy pile).

Jackie

I have a four year old and 1.5 year old. This so accurately describes my life that I just peed (an ever so tiny amount) because I was laughing so hard. At my desk. At work. The joys of motherhood!

pdxhadey

My 3 year old has started this thing where, when I ask her to pick up something that she has deliberately thrown onto the floor, she throws herself into an inconsolable weaping mess on the floor screaming "IT'S TOO HARD!!!!!" over and over until I take her hand and physically unclench it and wrap it around the object and close her fingers around it until she is the one physically holding it, then walk it over to where it belongs and drop it into it's correct location. HA! I WIN at parenting.

Christine

Love this.

But you forgot: "Get me that thing. Over there. No, there. LOOK WHERE I AM POINTING. Sigh."

And this is why I will be cleaning up after my children until they are 25.

Suzy Q

Too cute!

Kasey

My word, that was amazing. Sounds just like my 3.5 year old.

Julie

I love that you turned it into a rating scale. LOVE

Maggie

You get funnier and funnier! But really, at what age do our kids finally figure out how to clean up after themselves?

Brigette

Please to go and play "One Shoe Blues" by Sandra Boynton & BB King for Noah.

Maxine Dangerous

"Hawp? Shhz? Mama? Mama hawp shhz?"

*melt* :)

Cris

But! Can they fix you a drink? ;)

In with the video request for the "Hawp? Shhz? Mama? Mama hawp shhz?"

antonia

ha! sound just like my 2 boys!

Ashley // Our Little Apartment

Yep. This is why I love your blog. :)

Hilary

I feel like my daughter and Ezra should get married. They'd have one messy house, but they'd totally get each other and be blissful about it.

Jolene

This literally made me twitchy. Must go drink now.

Elizabeth

Words cannot describe how much I love this. In my house you would think picking up toys = brain surgery. On puppies.

I have yet to find an approach so we can skip the asking/hollering/cajoling/general drama and get right to the part where they pick up the damn toys anyway. (I guess they're not stupid - the harder they make me work for it the less likely I am gear up to make them do it next time.)

Sheila@Chinaberry

Absolutely the most hilarious post I've read in a long time. Thanks for your real take on how wild and crazy boys can be!

Ygraine

This is probably the funniest thing I've ever read;-) God, did it ring true...

Ladotyk

I love Ezra and the legos! My daughter excels at exactly the same passive aggressive civil disobedience. I still can't figure out how you have time to blog.

Laura

ahhhh - CLASSIC Amalah! LOVE it - as usual, crying from laughing, at work no less. and of course shared it with hubby, who also loved. Somehow, I seem to have all three of these "helpful" personalities, but only two kids. Still trying to figure that one out. Thanks as always for the hysterical.

Laura

PS - where I work, they call this "Calibration" which is done right before review time....so, it continues in adulthood?

mpotter

i'm sorry for you that your adorable children make perfect fodder for this blog!
love love this post.

Amy

This post is Perfect. It needs to go in the museum of Perfect Blog Posts.

Karyn

Awesome. This needs to be a regular feature!

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