Keep Me From Dangling My Children Over A Vat Full Of Sharktopi

Posted: August 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

I cleaned a bathroom today.

Not even *my* bathroom, but the fetid doomswamp that is my boys’ bathroom. Take that, belief that I cannot clean house.

Apparently, though, the stank of their bathroom had some kind of pacifying effect, because ever since I finished, the two boys have been fighting non-stop. I am about to add “didn’t lock my children in a soundproof closet” onto my list of achievements for the day.

It brings up a question that I’ve had, though, about getting my own stuff done. As many of y’all know, I’m the stay-at-homer dad here, and Kay works much time out of the house earning bacon. I keep asking that she get paid in money, but for some reason, she just keeps bringing home bacon. At least it’s thick cut. Mmm. Bacon.

Pardon, but I digress.

Anyway, to take time to myself on days when Kay is not here, it requires an abdication of parental responsibility. I’ve described this before as the “don’t kill each other while I’m working, and if you do, do it quietly” move. Good for writing (or hopefully soon art and programming), bad for parenting. It’s also difficult to pawn them off, because while I have kind and helpful housemates, in the end, they’re my responsibility. Unsupervision seems not to work well with these guys. Left alone, Number One Son tends to go nuts from lack of external stimuli. Left together, Number Two Son drives Number One Son insane by pressing the candy red “Torment” button on his back. Repeatedly.

I know I have challenging kids, and honestly, in the long run, the challenge is worth it for the glimpses of brilliance and wit that show the people they’ll eventually become. But until they grow up into perfect young minions, I have to listen to poke-scream-“Boys!”, poke-scream-“Boys!”

There are those of you out there in Readerville (I considered “Readerland” but it anagrammed to “Relearn, Dad” as opposed to the much cooler and creepier “Evil Red Earl”) who have your own bundles of conflicted joy and still find ways to do, y’know, anything else. So, I put out the call… I’m looking for a good hour and a half (what in our home we laughingly call “quiet time”) to actually get things done without hanging them from a rope over a vat of sharktopi. (The Evil Red Earl suggested that one.)

So, any good ideas? Bonus points if you can supply a way of explaining your plan to maniacal children. Trickery welcome.

I cleaned a window today too. There’s hope for everyone.


Tomorrow: I dunno. I haven’t written it yet. Sometimes I just make things up as I go along. Likely tomorrow will be that day.

  1. Laurie says:

    Two words: Outside Time. At least an hour everyday. No, they can’t sit on the front porch. 10 minutes is added to the hour every time someone asks if they can come in. Have them take water outside with them. But then again I’m the draconian child minder.

  2. Laura says:

    I like Laurie’s idea. Also, what if all three of you sat quietly (stop laughing, I haven’t finished yet) during school time and did some work? You could set an example for quiet, focused industriousness. Tell everyone to pretend they are Aunt La. You too.

    Totally unrealistic?

  3. Jennifer says:

    Duct Tape them to a wall. I won’t tell if you won’t.

    Are you looking for 90 contiguous uninterrupted minutes? Really? In the middle of the day?

    An incentive chart and simple rewards sounds unpalatable, but it worked wonders with my maniacal kid. Make a list of things they can choose to do for, say 30 minutes at a stretch, and if they leave you and each other alone, they earn a sticker. Earn x number of stickers in a week and they earn something. Or better yet, make it like the points earned by the different houses in Hogwarts.

    Things they can do separately and leave you alone: outside time, reading, doing art, constructing with legos, writing stories next to dad but not interrupting dad, cleaning. Special solo games they can only do during the time when you want to work.

    And I say again…duct tape.

  4. Therese says:

    Mmm, bacon. Did I mention I had chicken fried bacon with my breakfast this morning? I kid you not. Battered and deep fried! Maybe you could feed them that. The sheer weight of it in their bellies might just slow them down!

  5. Rachelle says:

    I know I risk utter shock and disapproval from some folks when I say this, but I’m beginning to believe a little corporal punishment is a good thing. Or at least incredibly strict, fairly dire consequences.

    I have always been the parent that wanted to treat my children with respect, not resort to physical violence, and reason with them. Here’s the thing: children are not reasonable. What’s more, as adults we don’t always do things because it’s the right thing to do or the reasonable thing to do, we do it because we know there are dire consequences if we don’t (losing our job, etc.).

    My children have many awesome qualities, but they both have realized that there are limits to how far Mom is going to go, so they have no fear. Even taking away my 16-year-old’s cell phone for a month only brought minimal improvement this summer. Like it or not, I was afraid of my parents at some level. That healthy fear meant I did what I was told, and now I am a (fairly) successful adult. This isn’t a tried-and-true solution; just something I’ve been thinking about.

    On a lighter note: bribery does work. When I really need peace and quiet I tell them that they are in charge of each other, and that if either one of them disturbs me, gets in trouble, or tells me that the other person was mean/rude to them, no one gets the reward. I’m not sure what devilry they get up to, but at least they keep it quiet and make sure I don’t find out!

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