Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

It's Saturday night, and I'm relaxing on the couch. I've been cooking all day, so my feet are propped up and I'm reading the paper. Suddenly, my littlest guy runs up to me, eyes alight with glee. "I got chock-it, Mommy! Chock-it poo poos!" I take a moment to digest what he just said. This boy is a woman when it comes to chocolate. He has a deep and abiding love for the stuff.

But, chocolate poo poos? I try to imagine what situation would cause him to equate what usually stays unseen in his diaper, to his great culinary passion. "Where?" I ask hesitantly. There are some questions one would just rather not know the answer to. "Come on, I show you!" he pulls at my hand, practically dragging me down the hall to his room. Sure enough, smeared all over the floor is the "chock-it". Apparently he'd been playing when he was hit with a bout of what my mom calls 'The Trots' and my dad calls 'Rocky Mountain Quick Step'. This was more than any diaper could hold. I hadn't noticed before, but it was all down his legs. I get him swabbed up while my #3 boy enthusiastically cleans up the floor. The littlest guy was just as pleased as he could be. "I TOLD you Mommy, I got Chock-it!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Man Has a Plan

In the days following my emotional tsunami of a breakdown, my husband and I brainstormed for solutions. We figured that the boys needed to take more responsibility to get their stuff done. That would avoid the whole "Mom's going crazy, everyone hide in the closet" scenario that seemed to be happening during homework/instrument practice/chore/ dinner-making /get-the-house-ready-Dad-will-be-here-any-minute time. A lightbulb went on for my husband. At work, he is responsible for quantifying and evaluating almost every conceivable aspect of sales and customer service. He uses boards like this one, except he has four of them. He modified that program for one that would fit us.

Now introducing........... (drumroll) The Accountability Board!

Every evening before dinner, we gather around the board, and have 'accountability time'. The boys report their performance for the day. Green boxes mean they got the job done, red means they blew a chance for wealth beyond their wildest dreams. See, Daddy's generous. Way more generous than Mom. He's turned this program into a pretty good money-making scheme for those lucky boys.
The premise is this: you get a perfect score on one aspect of your responsibilities, and you get paid pretty well for it. You get paid for each category, so if you miss up to two squares in a week on any particular item, you still got some money. If you blow off any one category, it starts to cost you. If you get a perfect score on all five items, you get the brass ring: lots of cashola. We aren't counting on everyone striking it rich every payday, but come on, they have to earn their mission money somehow. This has singlehandedly solved my nagging problem. But, since they have other responsibilities, they aren't doing household chores anymore. Bum jugger for me on that one.
I've decided to ease up on my cleaning frenzy. You see before you my daily chores for my 'day off' in the week. The 'deep cleaning' day had about two more feet worth of chores. I've decided not to freak out if I don't get everything done. The world won't end if I skip spot-washing the couch for a week.
I also took some good advice, and did what before would have been unthinkable: I bought paper plates, and served food on them. And then I threw away the evidence. Several evenings a week, my husband won't be home for dinner, so he'll never see my shame. And I won't wake up to a messy kitchen because I was too spent to do the dishes, and my kids did a lousy job because they knew I was too tired to go and check on them.I also get to sneak out of the house twice a week to go take fitness classes while this sweet man gets the kids ready for school by himself. I come home when they're out the door, so we get time to talk, read the comics and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Here is a certain 6 year old, having a blast with leftover striping material when Daddy was making the board.
Some good things have come of this change. The boys get some good time with their Daddy in the morning; my bum is getting totally cute from all the exercise I'm getting. I've been spending much more time playing with my guys instead of avoiding them. I took them swimming last night, took dinner from the oven, slopped it onto (gulp) paper plates, then shuttled them off to bed. "Why do we have to go to bed at 7:30?" they asked, their pathetic eyes imploring me. "You know how you guys always want to sleep in? Well, this is sleeping in, only on the other side of the night!" The little ones agreed, looking a little confused, but the big boys just rolled their eyes and sauntered off to bed. They would just read as long as they felt like it.
So, my friends, this chicky-babe might just make it through this after all.