Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My involuntary invisibility cloak

I was never invisible until I became a mother. This magic cloak is what I wear when I hear the kids watching a TV show that they oughtn't be watching (something with vulgarity or violence) and I slip off my shoes and walk down stairs and stand and listen to what they are watching before I enter the room and confiscate the remote control and pull cords from the TV and explain that it is time to play a board game. (This is how you get a 12 year old boy to cry like a toddler, "I-just-want-to-watch-TV!-Why-won't-you-just-let-me-watch-it,-Mom?-You-treat-me-like-I-don't-matter!" He goes on. And on. And on.)

Sometimes I see a mishap about to happen and the kids see me at one end of the room and when a disaster is about to strike, when, for example, a child is getting something out of a cupboard from the middle-to-bottom of a stack, I am suddenly there to protect my young child from a toppling mess and all the kids are dumbfounded as I seem like I suddenly appeared at the other end of the room. Is that invisibility? Maybe not. Maybe it is just super fast action, but it's cool!

At other times, I feel invisible and it isn't sneaky or cool and I can't take off my cloak. I suppose it is just part of parenting. This is where the kids do a half-arsed job at completing a task and I an not only invisible, but I am also put on mute. My husband is in on it with them. Why am I being so picky, they ask. I have a rule here that you don't put the large, stainless steal bowls into the dishwasher. These bowls, which range in size from a small measuring cup to a giant bowl in which I make a triple recipe of challah, in general take up a lot of space. Two big bowls can take up all the space on the lower level of the dishwasher, and a few of the smaller ones on top can leave little space for anything else. They get treated like pans and have to be hand washed is only to make room for the dishes, unless there are not that many dishes. Since my kids take the path of least resistance and throw all the bowls in and leave dishes in the sink, I have to say than NONE of the bowls go in to the dishwasher, ever. What can I say? Kids are lazy and I think that people in general are lazy. So, I have to tell them over and over to wash the bowls (and the big pans, and even rinse the plates off before putting them in the dishwasher) and they can't see or hear through my invisibility cloak.

Unfortunately my husband does not see why I have to do this and this makes it harder. He asks, "Why can't you just finish that up yourself if it is so important to you?" I explain that it's because the kids will not always have their mother around to do things and that they have to learn how to handle it in real life so when they live at an apartment and save up for a house that they won't be clogging up their dishwasher and have to give back all of their deposit when they move. Of course asking him to follow up on the kids doing this has gotten me nowhere, as my involuntary-invisibility cloak works on him best off all! 

One of my good friends has a great son of 18 years who is the most responsible, reliable male on the planet. If he is not the most reliable male on the planet, he is in the Top 1000 Reliable Males on the Planet to have EVER Lived or Who Ever Will Live. Of course I met him when he was 16 and he really impressed me. What I didn't know was that only in the previous 6 months had he become normal. Before that, she was on him 24/7. For three months when he was 12, he had to do the dishes every day because he had been caught putting them into the dishwasher with food stuck to them and she'd had to pay someone over $200 to repair the dishwasher.  She would watch him load up, but before he loaded up, he had to clean the debris trap in the dishwasher, first, this was a chore that he hated because it often stank. With him mom watching him, he gradually started washing off the plates and one day, he went to the food trap and it was clean. This happened several times in a row and he said to her, "It's clean all the time."

She said, "You have been RINSING." All the times that she had told him to rinse made no difference on him, so after three months, it dawned on him to rinse the plates. She still wears the involuntary invisibility cloak, but she says that experience is the teacher in her house. With her other kids, she sees the same mistakes being made and she has to walk them through the whole process each time. Now her eldest son is doing very well-- he is a Mr. Fix-It and he can fix almost anything in his house and he is pretty self-sufficient. While I have no worries for how this kid will be as a husband (he is also very level headed) and keeper of his home, I know it didn't happen on accident. (I hope whomever he marries sends his mom flowers on his birthday.) My friend produced this guy with her husband feeling as mine does.

So I forge onward, fighting my involuntary invisibility cloak and hopefully my children will come out OK and get it.

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