On Strike!

My neighbor came over yesterday and we were sitting at my kitchen table talking and she mentioned that she has gone on strike. She was fed up with doing everything for everyone in her house and she has decided to just go on strike. She was no longer cleaning, cooking, and if they did not put certain items on the grocery list (like say, milk... eggs... butter... KY Jelly) she would not buy it. *side note: I mentioned KY Jelly in a joke to my mom the other day and she laughed and laughed and then said "What is KY Jelly?"

I gave her a stern warning... my mom went on strike back when I was a teenager, and she never recuperated from it!

Now, when I was a kid, I felt that my sister and I (my older sister, our younger sister never had to do ANYTHING because she was the BABY and they loved her more than they loved us.) we had to do sooo many chores it was unbelievable. Not the simple chores that people give their children today like pick up your room, or feed the dog, no, we had hard labor chores. I was mowing the lawn when I was 7. No joke! We scrubbed bathroom floors, cleaned toilets, and even washed the dinner dishes by hand every night! It was like I was a Walton let me tell you.

The problem was that my parents (I am looking mostly at my Dad here) are pack-rats. They save every stinking thing they can get their hands on. They can't find anything from yesterday's mail, but if you need a letter that Aunt Carol wrote back in 1983, well that is on the buffet table in the kitchen... right on top of the Bobby Darin record. I think the only thing that my mother managed to ever toss out was the wood sculpture that my dad had of a hand giving the middle finger. I never knew they had such art until I saw it in a photo. My mom was holding my sister as a infant and in the background, sitting on top of the TV was a big ol' wooden middle finger. Priceless.

Anyway, my sister and I tried in vain to keep that house clean-until we went on strike as teenagers. This was around the same time my mom shouted "GOD BLESS AMERICA!" at the top of her lungs and declared she was going on strike. Sure mom, believe what you want... but we all know it was us that went on strike. I was a teenager and I had more important things to do than brown the pork chops for dinner... I had my tiger beat mag to read and my New Order cassette to listen to.

I could see where my mom was coming from though. When we were little, it was easy to get us to help around the house. As long as you start kids off early with slave labor, they will not know the difference for years to come. If you say "No TV until the kitchen is swept, the living room is dusted and all of the towels are off the bathroom floor." than one can bet that a kid will do these chores in order to get the TV because they do not know any better. Mom has always been the law around these here parts, and they are not about to go Billy the Kid on the system.

My kids are not yet teenagers, but they are entering the stages of "moodiness" and "JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" They are starting to form their own ideas and their own opinions (dang!) and I see the way my daughter looks at me when I give her a "to-do" list. Her eyes tell me that she thinks I am lazy. So what if I am going to lay on the couch with a People magazine and a can of soda while she vacuums around me... my mother did it to me, I am just passing down family tradition here.

The truth is that I depend on my kids a lot to help out. If I didn't write a list of chores each day, this place would be in squalor. It would eventually look like a medieval shack with no indoor plumbing. I would have to go on the show "Clean This House" or I would have to call "Home Extreme Makeover" and have them come rebuild me a new house after this one has been destroyed. I would have to think of a good cover story to get them out here. I am still working on one. I was thinking of the angle "My husband can rinse the dishes, but somehow he is incapable of putting the rinsed dishes in the dishwasher, so really his idea of helping is causing me cerebral hemorrhaging." I don't know-I don't think they'll buy it.

Anyway, my mom went on strike years ago and it did not work. All she got was a messy house that never recovered. I know this for a fact because a few years ago my parents moved from the house they had lived in for 32 years and headed south to a new house. I helped them pack. I should get an award or something because I have never packed more crap in my life. They now have all of that crap in their new house in Georgia. So, my mom's idea of "I am just going to show them!" did not work. We all said "show us what?" and now she still has Aunt Carol's 1983 letter on that same buffet table in the kitchen, only it is in a new kitchen 800 miles south.


Dana said...

I am loving the age of my kids now. The oldest does laundry AND cooks!

My dad is also a pack rat. Fortunately for me, he married someone a couple of years ago that has NO problem throwing his things away!

Toni said...

I went on 'modified strike' a few months back. I would only cook once or twice a week and I stopped doing everyone laundry. The Hubs and my 13yo jumped to it. I refuse to live in a pig sty and everyone is gonna pitch in. As I have said, I will pack my crap and leave. Yea- it's a lie, but they wont dare call my bluff!

Kasia said...

Sadly, my mother was 'on strike' for most of my childhood. Fortunately my father stepped up to the plate, and was a good cook...and cleaner, and provider...

Shauna said...

I've got a rule... once the kids are in the 7th grade, they do their own laundry.

For now, we have Nicholas wipe the floor under the table every night after dinner. I've noticed he eats neater now!

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

I am working on my "Extreme Home Makeover" story too. Every time I come up with scenarios, the kids help out by practicing their dramatic crying/fanning their faces routine. Also, they practice their "Oh, no, you've done too much for us!" and their, "OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH! MY ROOM IS SOOOO COOOOOL!". I remind them how lucky they are that we are NOT on EHM because something really bad would have to happen to us first. They come up with all kinds of horrible suggestions like, "maybe dad could break his back!" or "maybe we could be in a horrible car crash!" Weird kids.
Dear EHM,
My kids are so disturbed and strange that I can't pay my mortgage anymore for the huge psychiatrist bills that I've been having to pay. Also, their eye rolling has caused them all to need new glasses every two weeks and they can't see the messes they make so my house is getting trashed and I need back surgery from picking up all their crap. Also, they are stomping in protest so much that my light fixtures are loose and all my pictures and wall decorations are askew. Can't you please help us???