I work from home, and that means that my elementary school-aged daughter is here with me most days. This, as you can probably guess, is not overly conducive to the act of creativity or industry. I’ve written a handy guide for keeping them learning and occupied when they’re out of school, but today I’m on a snarkier track. Here are some of the never-ending arguments that happen when your kid is home all day.
5. The Definition of Clean
If you’re like me, you mistakenly believe that when kids are home, they can do their part in keeping the house clean. I even pay mine to do so, but there is a terrible disconnect between what I consider clean and what she considers clean. For instance, my definition of a clean floor is all the toys, candy wrappers, dishes and other bric-a-brac off of it. Hers is “vaguely move stuff around until I see something shiny on television, and then stare in rapt attention until the magic goblins take away the stuff.” It’s like living in the most annoying mini-game ever.
4. The Acceptable Level of Eating
During the school year it seems like a constant struggle to get enough food in kids. Instructions to eat more of their breakfast or dinner are met with eye rolls and protests. When summer rolls around, though? That’s when children apparently decide to gorge themselves in preparation for their pupal stage, from which they will emerge as particularly sarcastic butterflies. It gets to the point that as an adult you end up hiding nuts and berries just so there remains some food in the house. I don’t know what it is about the heat that makes children suddenly ravenous, but it is spellbinding to watch them meticulously consume four entire sleeves of saltines in one sitting. Mine approaches the phrase “you just had lunch” the way an AI approaches a logical paradox.
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3. The Necessity of Getting Up
At what age do kids become slug-a-beds you have to drag from under the covers with a winch? Because I can’t wait for that age. You’d think that children would relish the opportunity for sloth, but mine at least has a clock obsession bordering on potential Batman villain status. Every day she waits impatiently until 9 a.m. to loudly insist the day begin. Mind you, we’re not actually doing anything at that time. She’s most likely going to disappear into Nickelodeon teen dramas and the Price Is Right, but it seems to be the principle of the thing that obedience to Father Time be absolute.
2. Whether or Not There Is “Nothing to Do”
In no particular order my daughter has: six different video game systems available to play, a library of books and DVDs, all the wonders of streaming entertainment, a dollhouse taller than she is filled with dolls, a closet full of toys and puzzles, more art supplies than your average drugstore art supplies aisle, and a book chock-full of home science experiments. Obviously, this in no way constitutes enough stimulation to pass the lazy summer days.
1. The Frequency of Needing to Bathe
It’s hot. It’s, like, really hot. I keep expecting sandworms to erupt out of the ground it’s so hot, and when it’s hot, people sweat. When people sweat, they become malodorous, but feel free to try to explain to a child that she has become a walking armpit and that a trip to the bathtub might make her vaguely resemble humans again. Before I had a kid, I thought all those Calvin and Hobbes comic strips about fighting about the bathtub were exaggerations. Now I’m kind of wondering if I would save myself time just surprising her with a hose.
Don’t get me wrong; summer is a great time to connect with your kids away from the programming. However, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to spend the day locked in a battle of wills.