Our home has 3 levels and the middle level is what I fondly think of as ground zero. It's where the boys and I basically congregate when we are in the house. The ground level is our entry way and J's office so we can't really hang there with him working. The top level has our bedrooms. And bedrooms are for timeouts or sleep, something 2/3 of my children seem to be allergic to during the day. But ground zero hosts our kitchen, dining room, and combo living room/playroom. And because the main activity is centered on one level and I have 3 rambunctious boys, it gets messy fast. We're talking nano seconds here, people. We clean it every night and I work on it throughout the day, but Im getting to the point where if I wake up and I have to walk the Lego path of Doom strewn with PJ's and a half eaten waffle from an escaped toddler just to get to my damn pot of coffee, I want to just say screw it and head back to bed.
But the boys do clean. Sometimes with minimal argument. Sometimes under dire consequences threatening over their heads. Sometimes with bribes. If you're a parent you know that the same tactic is not always going to work and you work with what you got as you guage the atmosphere around you.
Well the other night the place was a DISASTER! I'm talking Olympic size mess here. I dont know what the boys were doing and frankly, I dont think I want to. But when it was time to clean, the shock and awe of how big of a mess they had before them silenced all three boys for a good 30 seconds.
That in itself is a miracle.
So to help them look at the bright side, J made it into a game, and sweetened the deal by offering them a small prize to the one who put away the most toys. Both Xavier and Ashe love to compete with each other and this was fair game. With a glint in their eyes, they set to work. They bantered, they taunted, they rushed, they cleaned. And in 30 minutes I could see the floor again. J and I sat on the couch offering encouragement to the boys, reminding them of the elusive prize as they started to slow, which prompted them to pick up the pace again.
At the end both boys did a phenaominal job. We applauded them both and J declared it a tie. When asked what small prize they wanted Xavier eagerly requested a jump rope.
"Done!" J announced and Zavi broke out into a huge grin.
"What about you, Ashe? What would you like?"
"I WANT A SPONGE!" he shouted with glee.
"...A sponge?" I asked, thinking I heard wrong.
"YEAH, A SPONGE! I WANT ONE SO I CAN WIPE WALLS."
I start thinking to myself, the kid has finally cracked. Did we put too much preassure on him? Is his underwear too tight? Is he fixable?... Do I want him fixed???? I mean hell, he wants to wipe down walls as a prize? I can work with this!
So after giving each other "a look" J and I agree that yes, he can have a sponge. We'll go out and get him his very own sponge in the morning. And Ashe couldn't have been happier.
Maybe Im going about this whole parenting thing the wrong way? I'll have to think on this a bit more.