Now that my older daughter’s four, she’s big enough to do chores and take responsibility for her own messes—or so I thought. Let’s just say my attempts to get her to clean up after herself have not been so successful. Even when I sing that catchy little song, “Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere/Clean up, clean up, everybody do their share”—I’m the only one doing my share. My share is 100%.
Here’s what my kid does when she doesn’t want to clean up, which is always:
1. Negotiates: “Can I keep playing and then I’ll clean up after dinner?” No. Unless I’m just too tired to argue and then yes.
2. Stalls: “Wait, I just have to finish building these five different towers.” Sometimes I fall for this, because, you know, creative expression.
3. Turns the tables: “It’s your mess, you clean it up.” This is patently false as well as disrespectful, but you have to admire the gumption.
4. Ignores me completely. Either I am mute or she is deaf. Or perhaps I’ve started speaking in tongues.
5. Distracts from the issue: “Mom, I’m really hungry.” No way. Then I’ll have a snack to clean up too.
6. Wanders away. Now you see her… now she’s in her room making a brand new giant mess.
7. Goes on the defensive: “Mommy, you always interrupt me when I’m playing.” That’s true, because she never stops playing.
8. Goes on the offensive: “You’re not my friend anymore!!!” Oh well.
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