Ahhh, the great quandary. Do I keep my boys inside so that I can fold laundry and maybe, just possibly organize and sweep the stairs…or do we go outside. Now I can imagine some housekeeping expert, mathematician, or accountant who has limited experience with small boys, looking at this question and laughing. To the purely logical mind the answer seems obvious, you get your housework done first, and then you take everyone outside. Ah, that is what my answer would have been as well, when I was young and childless and naive. But what the inexperienced experts fail to account for is the terrible transformation that the indoors causes a small boy to go through, and perhaps some small girls as well…although I wouldn’t know. A boy who would be riding his bike, gently teaching his little brother how to capture ants or pick bouquets of dandelions for his mother…when he is outside, becomes the boy who is chasing his brother with pointy kitchen implements stolen from under the nose of his laundry folding mother once left indoors for over an hour. He releases captured frogs in the sink and gives them baths, he dumps packing peanuts in his father’s office, mixes up a ghastly looking home brew with paints and his mother’s toothbrush, and paints the bunk bed with BBQ sauce from McDonald’s. Now there is another obvious solution that the inexperienced would surely place great hope upon. Consequences…and yes we have them in our house, every. single. time. And yet…the boy who washed the frog is sent to his room, and there he unearths the BBQ sauce he has hidden under his mattress, he is then sentenced to scrub the kitchen floor…where he steals the pointy kitchen implement and as soon as his mother reaches for a clothing item, attacks his siblings. And thus it goes until one has spent an hour folding 3 washcloths. Because with all of the dutiful consequence giving and lighting one’s hair on fire, that is all that you have managed to do. So what do you do? Wait for a lull in the consequences, a moment where all 3 have served their time in the brig (so that one is not permissive in the parenting category) and then madly madly rush them outside. Where the perfect, kind, gentle, mud-splattered angels appear. And so if you visit my house, and there is laundry, and dust, and maybe a bit of frog goo in the sink, but my children smile at you and don’t spread anything in your hair or launch at you with a fork. Realize that there are costs in life, they had to get outside…and all of us are sane because of it.
Question? What is the one thing that you or your children need to stay firmly planted in the rational being category?