Christina M. Currie: Taking charge


Children don't respond well to sarcasm.

Yeah, like that's a surprise.

And, despite the fact that they're champions at the skill, whining doesn't faze them at all.

When they gave voice -- again -- to their desire to be grown up so they could be in charge, it shouldn't have surprised me that my diatribe on the responsibilities of adulthood fell on deaf ears.

Well, not really deaf ears. They heard every word I said about the long hours and low pay. My children are 5 and 6 years old, the concepts of fringe benefits and overtime mean nothing to them.

They were, however, impressed with my job description. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, to them, aren't chores, they're adventures.

So, in the spirit of adventure, they volunteered to be "in charge" for the day.

In the spirit of arrogance, I let them. I thought it would be "a good lesson" (seriously, is anyone who's not a Cosby ever have any success when they set out to teach their children "a lesson?").

First, I needed to rearrange the furniture so they could reach the sink. I had to adjust the water temperature and get the broom out for 5-year-old Nikki. She swept until she realized that she would have to hold the dustpan herself, so she joined Katie at the sink.

By the time they were done, I had a line of dishes balancing precariously on the edge of a very wet counter. I reminded them that we had a dishwasher, so they loaded every item into the bottom rack.

Actually, other than the fact that the plates were sideways and I couldn't close the door, they did a pretty decent job.

There were already puddles of water on the floor, so mopping wasn't much of a challenge. They ran their dishrag mops right through the lines of debris that Nikki left in her half-hearted attempt at sweeping.

I was still undecided as to whether this experiment would mean more or less work for me.

Nikki said "For dinner we'll make a carguflew stew."

"A what stew?" I asked, for the first time truly frightened.

"A delicious stew, a course."

Ahhhh. Of course.

I left at that point, determined to take advantage of my time off.

I heard Nikki tell her sister, "and we'll read momma a bedtime story."

Katie burst that bubble immediately.

"But Nikki, we can't read!"

I wasn't sure what condition the kitchen was in when they decided to tackle the bathroom, but I wanted to mix it up a bit.

"Kaaaaattttiiiiiieeee!!!!! No one will play with me," I whined.

She suggested kindly that perhaps I consider entertaining myself.

"But I wannnnnaaa play a game."

"Sweetie," she told me with endless patience in her tone, "you can watch a movie."

Yeah, sure. After I explain how to sort laundry, get the soap down (but not pour, you only get to pour if you're in charge) and turned the washer on.

When that load was finished, Nikki pulled the clothes out of the dryer, dumped them unceremoniously on the floor (thank God she didn't put them on the mopped part) and transferred the load from the washer.

Being in charge, evidently, doesn't include folding, but they were happy to bring me a basket of freshly washed clothing to play with.

The girls became mom and I the child.

"What is your name gonna be?" Katie asked me and suggested hopefully, "Maria?"

"Ummmmm, Christina?" (There was a little sarcasm in that statement, too, just in case you didn't catch it).

"That's not a name."

"It is too a name."

"Nobody's named Christina."

Yeah, rare. It's only been in the top 200 baby names every year since 1950.

That's pretty much the extent of their actions for their day of "in charge." Well, except when they wanted a drink or a snack. Anytime I wound up to say "no," Nikki would say, "remember, mom? We're in charge."

When she tired of being in charge, Nikki decided she was a dog named ...

"Maria?" Katie interjected hopefully.

"Fluffy," Nikki said. Katie's attempts to steer us from the mundane were futile. And a little offensive. What's good enough for me is good enough for the dog?

Nikki's ability to be in charge is limited by her age, and frankly, her height.

But, she makes a great dog.

She fetches with enthusiasm, although I did have to put in a special request that she not bring back my cell phone in her mouth. Cleaning out the remote control was enough.

The best thing about Fluffy, though, is that every time she did something, she went to the refrigerator and got her own treat and brought it to me so that I could reward her.

Now, there's a segment of the population who are aghast that I treating my child like a dog. There's another segment shocked at an image of a 5-year-old doing laundry.

Hey, I'm not saying it's right. But, it's not like I'm in charge here.

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