May 10, 2007

If you can't stand the heat

At the beginning of each season, we have meetings with the kids to decide which chores they will be doing. At our meeting last weekend, I was pleased when Boy in Black agreed to clean the kitchen this summer. Since he is always the last person to go to sleep at night, I figured he could finish loading the dishwasher and then wash the "big dishes" late at night, and I would wake up every morning to a clean kitchen. What I didn't expect are the weird twists he added to the process.

Here is the scene in our living room yesterday morning.

Me: Why is With-a-Why drinking out of a cereal bowl? Aren't there clean cups?
Boy in Black: He lost his cup privilege.
Me: His ... cup privilege?
Boy in Black: Yep. He didn't put his cup in the dishwasher so now he's lost his cup privilege.
Me: So he can't use a cup?
Boy in Black: That's the way it works around here now.

I have tried for years to get my kids to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher when they are done with them. No one has ever listened to me. But people listen to Boy in Black. I watched in amazement as With-a-Why finished the bowl of juice he was drinking and put the bowl carefully into the dishwasher. I came back into the kitchen later to find Shaggy Hair Boy washing the pots and pans.

Me: How come you're doing the dishes? Isn't that Boy in Black's job?
Shaggy Hair Boy (mockingly): I lost my fork and plate privilege.
Daughter: So he's got to do some dishes to get them back.
Boy in Black (from his spot on the couch):Yep, that's how it works.
Me (turning on him): Are you eating right out of the sherbet container? That's disgusting!
Boy in Black: I don't want to get a bowl dirty. Now that I'm in charge, we're eliminating the unnecessary use of dishes.

He grinned at me as he stuck his spoon into the big container of rainbow sherbet.

Later that night while I was putting With-a-Why to bed, Boy in Black appeared at the doorway. I looked up from the book we were reading.

Boy in Black: Last time I checked, you were the only vegan in the house, right?
Me: Uh, yeah.
Boy in Black: So you're the only one who drinks soy milk... right?
Me: I guess.
Boy in Black (producing an empty glass): Then this is your cup?
Me: (with a sinking feeling) Well, maybe.
Boy in Black: I found it on the windowsill.
Me (making a quick decision to plead guilty): I was going to put it in the dishwasher as soon as I finished putting With-a-Why to bed.
Boy in Black: I'm sorry, but you've lost your cup privileges.
Me: What?
Boy in Black: That means you need to wash the big dishes.
Me: How fair is that?
Boy in Black: I mean, if you want your cup privileges back.
Me: You can't delegate chores to me!
Boy in Black (grinning): I'm afraid that's the rule.

With-a-Why looked up from behind his book, and the brothers exchanged a triumphant glance. Without another word, Boy in Black left the room.

I looked down at my youngest son, and he gave me a smug smile.

41 comments:

Sarah Sometimes said...

this is too funny!!! I love With-a-Why's drinking a bowl of juice.

I think I need to take away my cup privileges to get myself to wash some dishes around here....

BrightStar said...

awesome! I love the creativity.

Today Wendy said...

"cup privilege" Wow...I love it!

Your family sounds like so much fun :)

S. said...

"How fair is that?" was the moment he got you.

Delicious, delicious, delicious.

Kathryn said...

Oh YES! Love it. What's more, such a wondrous story might make it easier to sell the idea of collective responsibility for household chores to my tribe once summer finally gets here (in 12 weeks time!)

Busymomma66 said...

Ohhh, that is just toooo funny. I can't wait to see what they come up with next!

Linda said...

Brilliant!

RageyOne said...

Oh, that is AWESOME! Simply AWESOME!

"...eliminating the unnecessary use of dishes." LOL!

chichimama said...

Thank you for making me laugh! I so love your family.

Rev Dr Mom said...

Too funny!

But you must have a clean kitchen, eh?

Nadine said...

Hilarious!

By the way, I had a dream last night that Mom, Sis, and I were hanging out with you and the boys as some of your Extras.

Camera Obscura said...

The only member of our household that would get caught in Boy-in-Black's trap would be Hubs, who leaves soda glasses everywhere.

Leslee said...

I love your kids!

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

That is awesome... Hubby is about to be reduced to drinking from the carton... hoot!

It is a good thing you are Boy in Black's mom, as his power could be used for good or evil, and I suspect your influence will make the difference!

julieunplugged said...

I. LOVE. THIS.!!!

You have a great family culture.

Yankee T said...

That kid is BRILLIANT!!!! Our kids switch off night by night on the dishes and they are forever leaving little bits of undone business all over the kitchen. This would cure it.
I know you're so happy to have everyone home.

Kate said...

Brilliant! I love it, and I love how you do the kind of flexible parenting that allows your kids to take charge (and actually BE in charge sometimes). Nice work!

Libby said...

Oh, I love this, too. EVERYONE in my house would lose cup privileges in about a second. My husband, who quite happily drinks out of bowls, pitchers, cartons, bottles, faucets--you name it--wouldn't even notice. But the rest might.

Jodie said...

Too funny!

(Beware the Lord of the Flies)

Jodie

KathyR said...

This is the funniest thing I've read all week. I love the way you got busted.

Did you wash the big dishes? Or are you drinking your soy milk out of a bowl today?

sam said...

Great strategy! I might try it, though I'm a bit afraid of what would happen in our house - my son would probably enjoy attempting to eat waffles and syrup after losing fork and plate privileges, but I can envision the results...

Madeleine said...

He's the Tom Sawyer of dishes. With that many possible offenders, he'll having someone else washing the big dishes every night!

jo(e) said...

Madeleine: That's his plan exactly.

Kathyr: I honestly didn't have time to wash dishes -- I had an early meeting this morning -- so I drank out of an empty ginger ale bottle I found in my car. I think I am going to be stuck doing dishes this afternoon when I come home. I am hoping someone else has lost his privileges while I've been at work so that I have a helper.

Madeleine said...

Hey, you could play him the Rush Tom Sawyer song. Will he think you're cool or really old? So many good lines, but this one feels right:

Catch the witness, catch the wit
Catch the spirit, catch the spit

And the hair tossing . . .

Ampersand said...

Ha! This is wonderful : ).

PPB said...

What if you just bought a new cup? Are new dishes included in the ban? This is totally awesome.
My dad used to pile our dirty dishes outside our bedroom doors at night (well, probably wee hours of the morning), then we'd step in them when we got up. Gross.

Rana said...

Oh, man! D. and I would be doomed!

As it is, the sink slowly fills with dishes until Saturday, when we wash-and-dry while listening to the radio, or until one of us makes something large for dinner.

I'd love to limit myself to a single set of dish, plate, glass and mug, that I rinse out each day, but somehow that never happens. *laughs*

niobe said...

Summer is the perfect time to stock up on paper plates and styrofoam cups. Just a thought.

frog said...

I love your kids. :)

purple_kangaroo said...

Hilarious! I love reading about your family.

jo(e) said...

Niobe: Using disposable cups and plates are against the house rules, so that wouldn't work.

Rana: Boy in Black limits himself and keeps the bowl and cup in the refrigerator (which he somehow sees as an alternative to washing them out), and that drives me crazy because they are always in my way.

PPB: I think loss of cup privileges applies to both new and old cups. I doubt Boy in Black would allow that loophole.

I will admit that the kitchen is cleaner these days ....

east village idiot said...

Lord of the Flies...Part II!

Kyla said...

Genius!! I love it.

undine said...

Funny! I love the "cup privileges" idea.

todd said...

Hilarious!

Boy-in-Black is layin' the smack down!

:)

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. If you had said you weren't done with the glass because you are going to drink some more soy milk, would the penalty have still been enforced? Hmm.

ccw said...

This is priceless!

I can't imagine what I would think if I walked into my kitchen to find someone drinking juice from a bowl. The again, I also can't imagine my kids putting things in the dishwasher so maybe I should start dish privileges.

BeachMama said...

That is the most hilarious scenario. Although we do pretty go around here, I hate, hate finding glasses in the sink instead of the dishwasher. I may have to institute loss of privileges to see what happens :).

Sunday's Child said...

As a kid, I tried to get my mom to let us put saran wrap on our dinner plates so that they didn't get dirty and have to wash them. Apparently, I didn't have as much power as Boy in Black. :)

Bitty said...

I laughed until the tears ran.

Thanks for giving my day such an uplifting start.

cloudscome said...

Oh my lordy Jo(e)! You are in deep doo-doo now! What monsters you have created. ROFL