My son began his first day of volunteer work as a Youth Leader at our local Boys and Girls' Club today. He spent most of his summer last year either scheduled as a volunteer, or working one of the various "jobs" at the Club, to earn a little extra money. He was on the fence about doing it again this year, even though I strongly encouraged him to sign up again: Not only will it ultimately look good on his academic "resume", but he's out of the house, DOING something, and he's giving back to the Club.
But still, he hemmed and hawed about it for awhile. That is, until he overheard his grandmother and me talking about how, if he volunteered for work and didn't take the hours earned to sign up for an activity at the Club himself, I might be able to have some money deducted from one of the girls' activities I've signed them up for. In his own quiet way, he's always trying to do whatever he can to help ease the financial struggle we always seem to be in. He truly amazes me sometimes.
This morning I decided that today was going to be a heavy-duty cleaning day around here. As I began the somewhat daunting task of cleaning our downstairs area, I sent my oldest daughter upstairs to clean her room. I've long since learned my lesson about venturing upstairs, to their dens of drudge and mire, because each time I do, my heart starts racing just a bit too quickly, and the frustration and anger begin to boil my blood. I've just decided that I'm not going to subject myself to that particular brand of torture anymore, and leave it up to my oldest daughter and my son to clean up after their own messes.
Knowing how bad my daughter's room had to be, I figured that I wouldn't see her for quite some time. Cleaning is the only activity she participates in that tuckers her out consistently, so she is required to take many "breaks" while up there. The entire morning went by with no sign of her, and she finally emerged at noontime to pilfer through the refrigerator for some lunch.
As she sat, with her feet up on my dining room chairs (!!!!), S-L-O-W-L-Y chomping away on her leftover pizza, and stopping every five seconds to watch the television show that she'd put on the TV in our adjoining living room, I got to the point where I had just about enough of her stalling, and asked her the $10,000 question: "Is your room clean yet?" She gave me her best deer caught in the headlights look (it always amazes me how surprised she is with this question; like she thinks I'd never even THINK to check up on her like that!), and she said, "Well no, not completely." I tried my best to remain calm, and not bear my gums as I said to her, "Well, then... why don't you go upstairs and COMPLETELY clean it... NOW!".
She quickly cleared her place and moved her cute little fanny back up the stairs.
She finally came down, just a few moments ago, assuring me her room was "finally all clean". She then sighed (actually sighed!) as she said, "Cleaning's hard work, so I stopped for awhile and took a little nap." Boy, what a life, I tell ya! Of course, she headed for the kitchen to poke her head around in the fridge, once again, for her afternoon snack. (I swear, that child would eat anything that wasn't bolted down on the floor if I gave her half the chance!).
Once again, I asked her, "Are you SURE you're room is completely clean now?" She almost puffed out her chest at me as she answered, "Yup!". I continued, "So... if I were to go upstairs and check out your room right now, I would think it was clean, too?" Silence. Then, after a few moments, "Well, I'd better go check under my bed, just to make sure there's nothing left under there." Needless to say, she's back upstairs now, and I probably won't see her again until dinnertime! :)
As for my little one, she's become my newest "helper" whenever I clean down here. I pulled out my broom and dustpan, to begin the task of sweeping all of my floors, and she ran to get her toy Dirt Devil. "Are we gonna vacuum again, Mama?" "Yes" I told her, "but not right now. I have to sweep and then dust the furniture first. Then you and I can vacuum." "Can I help you dust too, Mama?" "Uhm, no, sweetie... I'll do that today. Maybe next time." Now, it's not that I don't want her helping me. In fact, just the opposite is true -- I think it's great that she gets so excited about helping me clean, believe me! It's just that, whenever I go to either dust or Windex any surface in this house, her idea of "helping" is to grab any cloth she can lay her hands on and use that to do her fair share too. She's been known to wipe down surfaces with an old paper towel, or a used tissue, or the facecloth still left on her table, with all the remnants of her last meal all over it. So, I wind up with all kinds of lovely smudges and other little "gifts" all over my furniture, TV set, computer monitor... you get the idea. So, those tasks I have to do on the sly, when she's distracted with something else. If she even so much as catches me Windexing, she'll be right behind me, gooping up the surface I've just cleaned.
But, I adore her when she wants to vacuum with me. I do each rug first, and then she goes into the room I've just done, and makes sure I've picked everything up by running over each rug with her play Dirt Devil. She even insists on putting her vacuum right behind mine where I keep it!
Sometimes she's just too cute for words!
So now, my house is all sparkly and purdy. I only hope it'll stay that way for awhile! :)