Monday, June 30, 2008

Outwit, Outlast, Outplay

Pin It Me: "Listen, I'm tired of telling you girls to clean up your room. If you don't clean it up in the next FIVE MINUTES, I'm gonna get a garbage bag and whatever I find on the floor, I'm gonna keep. I'm not kidding."

Sarah: "So what if I put my stuff on the bed?"

Me: "Whatever I find on the floor OR your bed."

Sarah: "So what about my pillow? Are you gonna take my pillow?"

Me: "Whatever I find on your bed that doesn't belong there."

Abby: "What if I leave my piano book on the floor?"

Me: "Anything EXCEPT your piano book."

Sarah: "What about my shoes? What if I don't get them cleaned up in time? You can't take my shoes. I need them for school."

Me: "Ok. Anything but the piano book and the shoes and --"

Abby: "I'm gonna leave my blue shirt on the floor for you Mom. I don't want it. It's itchy."

Me: "No, you need to pick it up --"

Abby: "But I don't want it."

Sarah: "Oh, and Mom, I'm gonna leave Carter's stuff on the floor. 'Cuz we don't want it."

Me, possibly yelling just a tiny bit loudly: "JUST CLEAN IT UP."

Abby, in a quavering voice: "We're just askin' a question."

Sarah, in tears: "You don't have to yell."

(They both collapse in a heap of sobbing, because their mean, mean, mean, borderline abusive mother yelled at them.)



DURFWAD. You know what I mean? Just - slimey hockeypuck freakin' DURFWAD.




(Times like this, I wish I knew how to scrapbook.)


  1. Anonymous5:02 AM

    I believe I've had that very same conversation on many different levels over the years. Absolutely no advice at all - I'm still trying to figure it all out myself!

  2. Anonymous5:10 AM

    They both going to be lawyers when they grow up and will open a law firm called "Legal Sisters" or something like that.

  3. This is why it never pays to talk to your children...

  4. Anonymous6:54 AM

    Ah yes, children are famous for this one. Believe it or not, one day you'll have a good laugh at it. Children are very specific - I was watching my best friend's son the other day and when his singing was all I could stand, I politely asked him to stop singing for now (it was late at night). So what'd he do? Started whistling. Yep. Asked him to stop whistling, he started humming. No joke. I was thinking, "If only you were my kid, boy..." LOL

  5. Anonymous7:19 AM

    True justice is watching your kids raise their kids! :-)

  6. Oh! I had almost this same "conversation" with my daughter Saturday.

    The sad thing is she would really rather I throw it all away than clean it up. So, since OF COURSE I'm not going to REALLY throw it away, and I feel guilty for telling her I would, I end up in there cleaning up the Polly Pockets (oooh how I hate that P. Pocket and her little shoes!!) right along side of her. Which is probably what I should have been doing in the first place, if I were one of those kind and patient mothers.

  7. Did you steal this conversation from my house? Just last night I had virtually the same one with my little girl.

    One time, I asked her to clean up her big My Little Ponies, she wouldn't, I took them. "That's OK, mama, I have little ones." She said. I took the little ones. "That's OK, mama, I have stuffed ones." I took them. This continued until she made me take the pony sheets off the bed, the pony clock and the the pictures from her walls. Did I mention that she is only four?

  8. Heh... I will be have precisely THIS conversation later this morning... is it any wonder that I am insane?

  9. Been there, done that.

    And I agree with Jen on the Edge - they're definitely future lawyers.

  10. Oh Sue, why would you do this to me? Just after I have the same conversation with my own messy kid, I come hear and read it all over again. ears!

    Ever feel like running away from home? I mean, just for a little while?

  11. While my son is obviously too young to be "reasoning" with me like this, I seem to recall at least one very similar conversation with my own mom...


  12. Mom2nine, I am totally there with you. I often spend time laughing at my daughter trying to parent herself channeled into an almost 3 year old body. It is totally amusing.
    I think I only told my kids to clean their rooms so they would just stay in there for hours and leave me alone. They knew if they came out I would tell them to go clean their room, so they just played and we were all happy! Okay, maybe not precisely like that, but that is how I remember it!

  13. If you ever find a solution to this one, let me know. My girls drive me crazy in exactly the same way.

    Then there's my son, who, when confronted with the toothpaste-covered faucet and messy backsplash was dead serious when he said, "You said clean the sink and counter. You didn't say the faucet and backsplash." ERGH!

  14. My favorite from our house is... "but you promised she'd have a CONSEQUENCE." My girls like to kick it back to me regarding eachother's behavior. This is how I know they can hear well.

  15. yeah - this is so my summer! I thought Abby was ingenious though - trying to get rid of the stuff she didn't like. They're very clever. Don't you hate having clever kids?

  16. Anonymous9:32 AM

    That's some strong language there, heh heh

  17. I use the garbage bag alot in our home. And it works...when the black garbage comes out, they can't move fast enough:)

  18. Oh my gosh. That is really classic. Maybe the garbage bag will work better next time.

  19. I have so totally had this conversation with mine -- right down to the yelling and sulking at the end. Also this conversation:

    "Stop whining!" [Can be replaced with stop yelling, stop being rude, etc.]

    "I wasn't whining!"

    "Yes, you were."

    [Whining louder,] "No, I wasn't."

    "Well, whatever you were doing, change it."

    "But I wasn't doing anything ,so how can I change it?"

    [Yelled] "You are definitely whining NOW and you just need to STOP IT!"

  20. Actual conversations this morning:

    Sarah, sobbing: Abby won't let me use her lip gloss.
    Me: She doesn't have lip gloss.
    Sarah: Yeah, but she said if she had some, she wouldn't let me use it.


  21. K, flashback to elementary school. When I was in 4th grade I shared a room with my sister- total slobs, the pair of us. The "Clean it up or I will throw it away" threat was a daily recitation in our home. One day we came home from school and our room was totally clean. How cool, our mom cleaned our room for us, right? Uh, no. She had taken away all our clothes and we got to pick two outfits- one for church and one for school. I wore these same two outfits for 2 straight weeks, no joke. We had to earn everything back. It was a lesson for sure.

    p.s. love your blog!

  22. Oh Sue, that's it. Wrapped up in a blog post. I keep thinking that I'm going to get better at the negotiations, but they keep learning new tricks and I'm getting old and slow.

    I'm so outwitted, outlasted, and outplayed.

  23. Anonymous12:55 PM

    I have trouble getting my son to bathe properly. (Since it's nice weather he's condemned to play outdoors most of the time so the room isn't so bad...right now.)

    When he gets out of the bath it's always a fight.

    Me: Did you wash your hair?

    Ethan: Well, I washed my body.

    Me: Did you wash your hair?

    Ethan: I said I washed my body.

    Me: Go wash your hair.

    Ethan: But I DID wash my body! PROMISE!

    Me: Wash your hair.

    Ethan: You don't believe me? Here, smell my arm. I used lots of soap.

    Me: Go and wash your head before I detach it from your frame.

    Ethan: You NEVER believe me!!

    He stomps to the bathroom. Little turkey.

  24. Every once in a while, I throw one of their toys away just to show them that I MEAN IT.

  25. Dude, JUST. DO. IT.

    I bust out with the black garbage bag all the time. The first time, it's kinda hard, and they follow you out to the garbage can with big wet eyes and you start to feel a little bit bad, but they they yell, "I hate you, you're so mean" and instead you feel warm and fussy inside.

  26. We've had similar conversations in our house.
    Sometimes it's just easier if you go ahead and clean it yourself.

    We've used the garbage bag method before. I even started to throw away a beloved blankie and stuffed animal. I had them in the garbage bag and their young owner cleaned faster than any 4 year old I've ever seen.
    Now that the kids are older, I just make sure the kids bedroom doors stay closed when anybody comes over.

  27. Anonymous3:42 PM

    Now that you have to pack, just think of it as another way to sort, throw away, etc. You could use packing boxes instead of plastic bags. One way to get the job done.
    P.s. Do you remember the "gunny bag"?

  28. I remember these conversations with my mother. Now i am 26 having them with my 3 year old. Sometimes she listens others she doesn't. I wish it was all easy and I had advise for you but I don't. You aren't alone though.
    I promise.

  29. Anonymous5:45 PM

    lol...Wow...Kids are smart...really smart, you have to know how to get around's hard when they team up though!


  31. I think I'm a mean mommy because I used to get the trash bag and actually round up their stuff and then I would make them earn it back by doing chores. So when I say I'm getting the trash bag, it starts a stampede for them to go and "protect" their stuff.

  32. That one about the lip gloss is SO funny -- and we have lived that one here, too.

  33. This so sounds like a conversation that I have had with my six year old. When you figure it out let us know!

  34. I have had this same conversation a million times with my 10 year old. She does that, or she throws her (clean) clothes into the laundry so her room is clean(er). That, and when I say, "Not another word" and she goes(in a very snotty yet highly dramatic voice), "Okay...oops" (obviously on purpose because she knows I won't strangle her despite my great desire to do so).

    I look forward to summer vacation like I'm a kid, but a couple weeks of this and I'm ready to ship them off to sleepaway camp like you see in the movies.

  35. Once when I told my girls (6 and 4), after one of their grand creative projects, that I was going to throw away everything they'd left on the kitchen table if it wasn't put away in 10 minutes, I heard my older daughter coaching the younger one, "No! Don't clean up the garbage -- if we don't put it away, then mom has to throw it away."

    Having smart kids can be a curse.

  36. Anonymous3:13 PM

    My kids were the same. I can only tell you this - my life has been transformed (TRANSFORMED, I say!) by the House Fairy. Unbelievable. My kids totally love it and their room has been spotless every day for -gasp - over 3 months!!!! ( - I think. Or just make up your own!)

    Bev :)

  37. I remember your Grandma saying that she finally was able to get your Uncle John to pick up his clothes/clean his room by telling him that if he didn't do it, he'd find his stuff in the front yard when he came home from school. I'm pretty sure that she actually threw his stuff in the front yard. But being on the tale end of the siblings, it could just be family folklore.

  38. Oh Sue, Emma's only four and she's already taking up this sort of tack with me. I'm so very, very afraid.

  39. Wow, they've got a good handle on that one already.

  40. My mom used to have a box that she put anything that hadn't been properly put away before we went to bed into. The items in the box were dated and we couldn't have them back for an entire week. One night, I left my shoes out. Guess who spent a week wearing too small flip flops to school in the middle of winter? Yes, in the snow and everything! Needless to say, I never left my shoes out again!!!

  41. I finally got so tired of this conversation I instituted The Last Resort (check out June 2006 of my blog). My daughter came home to an empty room. Bed and dresser. That is it.

    She had to earn each and every thing back, one at a time, one thing a day. By the end of the summer I had edited her toys and she understood that when I said "if you have so many things you can't take care of them and I will take them away" I meant it. We have only had to do it one more time.

    In the meantime, they have an EMPTY room that you never have to yell at them to clean. Heaven.

  42. I am not kidding, start throwing away their stuff--stuff they LIKE.

    I always start with the toy that is pissing me off the most--like the plane that poked holes all over my ottoman. Gone, threw it into the garbage in front of his face. I don't even care.

  43. Anonymous12:27 AM

    I've been at both ends of this conversation. I feel bad for anyone who had to raise me now.

  44. OMG, I'm LMAO only because I JUST had that same conversation with my 9 y/o two weeks ago(as well as several others with, not only my 9y/o, but also my 12y/o on many, many occasions) and I feel your pain!!!
    I always tell them that what ever I find on the floor is going in the trash though. :)

  45. Ok... I stumbled across your blog today and am so glad that I did. What a fun place to be. I love your writing and this experience with your kids could have come straight from my life! THANK YOU for blogging!!!

  46. Anonymous9:58 PM

    Start saving tuition for law school. NOW!

  47. "So what about my pillow? Are you gonna take my pillow?"