Thursday, February 6, 2014

Actually, Everyone Abhors the Vacuum

Here is some parenting advice I have taken to heart: Kids like to feel useful, so give them meaningful things to do.

In fact, I have really, really taken this to heart. So much so that Medium Fry is arguably the single most useful child on the face of the planet. (Okay, here's some other advice I know to be true: I can't actually take credit for this. The formula is something like, I attempt some parenting business x her highly agreeable nature = hey, so far so good.)

Medium Fry is so useful that when she goes away for any length of time the entire household pretty much goes to hell. Nature abhors the vacuum of her absence so something fills the void, but it is an anarchic sort of something wherein her long list of chores simply doesn't get done. It's a real tragedy of the commons, of the sort one might typically encounter in a college residence:

- The recycling bin, the compost pail and the kitchen garbage resemble Jenga assemblages in their twilight moments - the unspoken understanding being that if it is your piece of trash that causes the tenuous pile to collapse, or even if you happen to be geographically proximal to it when it blows, you are the one stuck taking the mess out to the blue/green/black bin.

- The dishwasher ran twenty hours ago, but only when some poor sucker cracks and reaches in for a clean utensil will it be emptied.

- You wanna puke into a clean toilet? Have fun scrubbing it.

However, we are not in Res - not by a long shot. We are sprouting greys and making mortgage payments on a quiet suburban street in northwest Calgary. And Medium Fry goes away roughly every second weekend. How is it we seem unable to reach a sensible solution to this ongoing, rather trivial, problem?

Welp, I for one dig in my heels on pure principle: I do enough housework and damned if I'm willingly taking on any bloody more of it. Since the rules of the game state that acknowledging there is slack to be picked up would alert other participants that I noticed the slack and beg the question of why I hadn't been picking it up myself if it's so important to me, I've never exactly asked DH why he is digging in his heels on the matter. I basically figure it's because he's a damn man, and Small Fry does because - well, he's a damn five-year-old. (He's also legitimately too short, young and/or insane to safely do many of the things Medium Fry does around the house, even if he were capable of noticing they needed doing.) (But DH? No excuse.)

Medium Fry looks at us like we are the most useless humans on Earth when she invariably comes home to our Jenga-piles and cupboards devoid of clean dishes. I have a feeling she'll be the best roomie ever one day for some lucky college students, but we sure will miss her.

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