Growing up in my family, and I’m sure likewise in most, everyone seemed to tell the same stories. The stories told about me usually, in circulation to this day, I can narrow down to 2 stories. The time when I spit out my green beans into my milk without anyone noticing, and then when I left the table, my mom made my brother finish my milk so it would not go to waste. After all, he was always hungry. My sister tells me that this story made my name famous among the 2nd graders at the school she taught at.
The other story is basically the first of many showdowns I had with people. Shortly after my parents separated, my grandparents moved in to help out. I wasn’t even in kindergarten yet, and after seeing my brother and sister leave for school in the fall, I was finishing up my bowl of cereal, and my grandpa told me to finish the milk in the bottom of my bowl. I, apparently, looked him square in the eye and told him in the biggest 5-year-old stern voice: “You’re not the boss of me.” I didn’t shout it. I just wanted him to know that he did not intimidate me.
Writing that out, I realize that the stories about me both involve me not finishing milk. Funny, because Knut complains about that too. Huh…
Anyway, there was a moment last weekend where Silje said something that will be burned into my brain forever. I absolutely must record it. Last Saturday we went to an early morning basketball game. Then we came home to do chores before Silje was going to a friend’s birthday party. Still after that, we had a family over for supper. (Knut’s doing his I’m-soon-going-to-not-see-people-because-I-will-be-planting-the fields social juggle right now.)
Anyway, I was running around vacuuming, changing sheets, etc. etc. I had assigned the 2 older kids jobs as they are somewhat able to do chores without me in the room. At least I’m trying to get them to that point. Silje’s job was to fold and put away clothes. She’s very good at this job. However, there was a lot of laundry, and the socks nearly threw her over the edge. I was planning on letting the kids take a break after about an hour of work, in which I’d most likely forget to ask them to help again. I’m not saying I was intentionally not going to ask them, but you moms out there know that helping isn’t always helpful. So it often slips the brain when you have a job at hand.
About 50 minutes into it, Silje approaches me as I’m shuffling the enormously heavy old, old Kirby vacuum down from upstairs.
“Mom, can I be done?”
“No, Silje, I asked you to do a job, and I gave you a very easy one. You don’t have to finish the whole pile, but I’d like you to work at least until I finish this [whatever I was doing] and then we’ll wrap the present and go to the birthday party.”
Silje walked off in a huff. I probably should have followed her to discuss the huff, but I was on a cleaning roll.
Silje calmly walked back to me as I was scrubbing the bathroom sink and said, “Mommy, I’m just asking you to think. How would you feel, Mommy? How would you feel if you had to clean for a whole hour other people’s stuff. Clothes that weren’t even your own? Huh? How would that make you feel if someone asked you to do that?”
It was one of those moments as a mom where you know the absolute wrong thing to do was to laugh at your child, but I’m sorry to say I couldn’t help it. With cleaning grit up my fingers I couldn’t even wipe away the tears as I bent over doing a “silent laugh” which is what happens to people in my family when we’re laughing as hard as we can. Even now I can’t but help smile.
Knut walked by and asked what’s so funny. I tried to tell him with a straight face…honest. He smiled at Silje and said, “Silje, if that were ever to happen to Mommy, you know how she’d feel? She’d feel like she was on vacation.”
Sadly for Silje and David, it’s never been more apparent to me that they need some more chores around the house. They’ve been pretty good about it. Silje especially rarely complains, which is why this story is so funny. Silje helped Knut clean out the chicken coop yesterday without a complaint. It was a dirty, dusty job and she enjoyed every minute. Well, it involved animals so that makes sense.
On that thought I should add we had a chicken death this week. We’re down to 16 now. I’ll save that story for another post.