Nola and I have not been motivated to do much of anything this summer . She just recently began delving in to her summer reading list even though most of her friends were halfway done a few weeks ago.
I’ve had to dole out other assignments in stages because God forbid I cut into the time she spends socializing via social media or watching an endless loop of reality TV.
Yep, we’re those people. Leah Remini is funny, y’all. Crazy as hell, probably a nightmare to deal with in real life, but still funny.
Anyway… where was I? Oh yes, chores. “Clean your room” means nothing to Nola, kind of like the meaning of “clean the bathroom” to Haley and Alex Dunphy (yeah, we’re really into “Modern Family” reruns as well).
Nola disregards the lesson of that episode, in which the girls’ inaction drives their father over the edge and results in them being trapped in said bathroom all day, scrubbing sinks and removing an endless stream of hair from the bathtub drain with a coat hanger. I’d never do that to Nola… she hopes.
I’ve learned that being specific works much better with my child. “Clean your room” has been transformed into “pick up all your clothes off the floor and wash them.” Done? Okay, now clean off the top of your dresser. Check? Now clean under and around your dresser and clear out the floor of your closet. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to empty the trash. It’s overflowing, in case you hadn’t noticed.
I’ve also learned that attaching a positive to the end of the chain of events makes Nola much more pleasant to deal with during the actual chore-doing. And no, I’m not talking about a bribe. Not really.
What I mean is more like this recent back-to-school conversation.
“So, we need to start talking about what you need for school,” I say as Nola is multitasking: she’s watching television while both eating and playing on her phone. I’m really not sure how she does it. Since I implied shopping would soon be in order, however, I find I suddenly have her full attention.
“Oooohhhh,” she says as I see all the pretty things she wants float in front of her eyes. Lilly Pulitzer this, North Face that. The child is a conundrum.
“Wait….” I continue. “We can’t talk about it yet.”
“Because before we can do that you have to do two… no, three things for me first.”
Groans, rolls eyes, looks back at phone. Nola knows a bait and switch when she sees it and is losing interest fast.
“Don’t worry, it won’t be that bad now that your room is clean.” The “mostly” before clean is implied but clearly understood by us both.
The look I get is skeptical but, hey, at least I’m still getting eye contact. For the parent of a teenager, sometimes that’s all you can ask.
I lay out the plan: go through the dresser and the closet. See what you can keep and wear this year and discard what you don’t need or like. Try things on if you have to (I’ve learned that I have to say this because Nola will often keep things just in case, even if they’re pajamas she hasn’t worn since she was 5). Put the discards in two bags: trash and Goodwill.
“No Goodwill,” she says. “Uptown Cheapskate.”
Then, make two lists: Back to School Needs and Back to School Wants. We’ll work on the needs list first, then I’ll consider the wants list.
We come to an uneasy agreement without her even noticing the number discrepancy, though that was a few days ago and she has yet to start on the weeding out. She has, however, already started thinking of things to add to her lists.
“Ooooh!” she says out of the blue one night at dinner. “Riding boots!!!”
I look at her, shake my head and pray that she puts that on the correct list. She totally did, right?