Tuesday, October 3, 2017

When Mom Goes on Strike

This is not my first strike.

When my almost-20-year-old was young, I went on my first Mom Strike. At the time, I was a stay-at-home Mom with one 5-year-old son. One morning at breakfast, he apparently thought I was moving a little slowly.

"Mom, what's taking the eggs so long?"

"They have to cook."

"When Popo [his grandmother] makes eggs it doesn't take so long."

Strike one.

When the eggs are ready, I fill two plates. I take one to the table and sit down. I leave the other on the counter.

"Where are my eggs?"

"On the counter."

"Why didn't you bring them to me?"

Strike two. 

"Because you are perfectly capable of picking up the plate and bringing it to the table yourself."

[With marked exasperation]: "That's not my job. That's your job."

Strike three, buddy. You. Are. Out.

That day, I went on strike from cooking. But just for him.

The Rules

(as explained to the 5-year-old)

  1. You don't appreciate the cooking I do for you. Therefore, for the next two weeks, I'm not going to do it.
  2. You are responsible for making your own breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day.
  3. You may have cereal one time a day. No more.
  4. Each meal must contain at least one fruit and/or vegetable.
  5. Because you are five, you may not use:
    • Sharp knives
    • The microwave
    • The stove
    • The oven
For the next two weeks, I cooked for Herb and me only.

I made sure to have lovely dinners that included all of his favorite foods.

I made hot breakfasts like pancakes and bacon.

And he had not one single bite.

Just to ward off the possibility of a call from Children's Services (That came about a year later. Don't ask.) I wrote a note to his pre-K teacher.

Dear Ellen:
Just in case Sandy comes to school saying that I don't feed him, let me explain ahead of time...

I laid out for her what had happened, how I had responded, and what Sandy's new responsibilities were.

I got a note back. Uh oh.

Dear Marybeth:
Can I steal this idea?

Fast Forward 14 years. It looks like the younger siblings need the same lesson.

Offender 1: DS13 (Dear Son, age 13) is just not doing his "job" — his schoolwork. The number of zeroes this kid has is unreal. The problem is, he's brilliant, just lazy and distracted. When he does his work, he does great! But apparently remembering that he has work to do is more than his 13-year-old brain can handle. Well, if he doesn't think his job is all that important or stimulating, let's see how he likes mine.

Strike one. 

Offender 2: DS12 (Dear Son, age 12) This one is a mini-me of the now-20-year-old first offender. So he was kickin' it old school last night, just like his brother. 

[Note: The cats in our household belong to the boys. The dog is mine. Apparently this distinction is important.]

"Jordan, while I cook dinner, can you please feed all the animals? Not just the cats. The dog food container is empty so you'll need to go downstairs and refill it."

"Can't you do that? After all, it's your dog."

"Sure. I'll feed Brenna. Oh, wait a minute. I'm busy here making dinner. For you. No worries. I'll feed Brenna. You feed yourself whatever you can find in the fridge."

"But feeding me is your job. You're the mom. It's what moms do. You the one who chose to have kids."

Strike two. 

Fast forward to later in the evening. I'm unpacking the lunchboxes and throwing the little blue ice packs back in the freezer so they can keep tomorrow's lunches from turning rancid.

(Speaking of, when did freezer packs become necessary? I ate sandwiches with mayonnaise on them every day for years and we didn't even own a freezer pack. But I digress...)

I open the lunchbox of DS13 and the entire lunch is still there. Well, except for the turkey which he pulled off the sandwich. The neat little plastic container of red pepper slices is open and the peppers are scattered around the inside of the box. The apple slices lovingly spritzed with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown are untouched in their little baggie.

Strike three. Here we go again.

I don't yet know what my strike is going to look like. But next week is fall break. Perfect timing.

If you were me, what would these kids be doing next week? 
What jobs would you hand off? 
What would you keep? 

Please comment below and help me figure out what this strike looks like. It's not just going to be meals this time, folks. Because this is way bigger than food.

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