Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chore Day is a beast

There comes a time in every domestic dad's tenure that he realizes he is ill-equipped for the day. Not the work day. Not your average week day. Chore Day. The day that every parent dreads, but most especially dads. I won't even pretend to say that I like Chore Day. That's the day, usually a Saturday, when all the chores that couldn't get done during the week get done.

Chore Day is a beast.

It's the day I realize that I don't have sufficient cleaning supplies to get the chores completed on schedule. It's why I pushed the chores to begin with. It's why I dread that day. It's precisely why I avoid Chore Day—

Unless of course I'm going to play a background movie to keep my sanity. Background movie? Simple. I'll tell you. It's a movie I've seen many, many times over, such as Star Wars: A New Hope, or Die Hard, or Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, or Marvel's The Avengers, or The Lord of the Rings (which by the way is a good indicator for how much time it takes to clean the kid's room, because if the room is in an epic state of mess then I'll have earned that glass of merlot).

A background movie does not require me to engage with it. It's not Schindler's List. It's not The Pianist. It's not Inception. It's not freakin' Gone With The Wind. It's easy. Something I can quip with. Something I can listen to without getting distracted. It's . . . in the background. It's a no brainer. I'm sure you deciphered my code word by then, but it gave me a chance to let you into the mind of a Zany Adventurous Domestic Dad!

Chore Day begins with an easy breakfast. By easy, I mean that the breakfast requires the least amount of cookware and dishes. In other words, scrambled eggs and potatoes. Eggs get cracked. Milk gets stirred into the mix. Potatoes are chopped or cubed. Never shredded. Hash browns are messy.

This day is also the day the kids grumble about most. They don't get to pick something from the breakfast menu. Now, I'm not saying I'll cook whatever they want, however they want. This isn't Burger King. They don't get to have it their way. And this isn't a Five-Star hotel. I'm not going to deliver a cart upon which are platters of breakfast foods, like eggs, pancakes, french toast, croissants, and fresh fruit, neatly wrapped and covered along with polished silverware nestled around coffee, juice or milk.

This breakfast is intended to be cooked and served fast. Naturally, the potatoes will take the longest, but I've got a system down. Preheated oil cooks those chopped spuds well.

As I grab ingredients from the refrigerator, I plan ahead for lunch or dinner. By this time I've already taken a survey of the house. I know which rooms will need attention, and which rooms will require the most manpower.

If we have hot dogs in the refrigerator then lunch will be an easy fix. If we don't, then my next stop is the freezer for chicken. Takes a good hour or two to thaw chicken. If I time that well I can tack on an extra hour or two to the chore schedule, which usually means an extra load of laundry because once the chicken thaws I can switch the clothes out of the washer to the dryer. That 45-minute timer is almost exactly the amount of time I need to make mushroom chicken over rice with two sides of veggies.

While everyone is eating, that load of laundry comes out and gets hung. I never fold in the laundry room. A complete waste of time. If the fabric softener hasn't done its job there's very little that I can do to move that along.

Plus, and perhaps most importantly, when the kids are eating that means they're not screaming at each other. Lunch is a few minutes of bliss. Oh, don't get me wrong. And don't be fooled by the power of chicken over rice. Kids that want to get their way will do just about anything to make their case, even scream. But with a forkful of mushroom sauce and rice it can be difficult, especially when I threaten quiet or no Treat Drink. Treat Drink is non-alcoholic Sangria brewed and bottled by Peñafiel. If you've ever had a glass of the bubbly you'll know what I'm talking about. It's usually located in the soda aisle, near the Henry Weinhard's brand of soda drinks.

By mid afternoon I usually have a handle on Stage One of Chore Day. Stage One consists of the kitchen, the living room, the hallway and the bathroom. Stage Two is where the real fun begins. The kid's room.

I leave it last because sometimes the kids are willing to help pick up their mess, especially if I've enticed them with Treat Drink. Right about now parents are either saying to themselves, bribery works magic, or you're in for it, dad. Giving a kid a cup of liquid sugar is a one-way ticket to a late night sleeping schedule. And they would be right, except with Treat Drink pulsing in their system they're running around, playing all sorts of games, including my favorite, Might Morphin' Power Rangers, in which I get cast as the villain. And since I'm cleaning the house, you can bet your sweet rangers that I make a game out of cleaning up the Ranger's hideout.

At this point I've lost control of the television. My wife has taken it over and has started watching any number of shows, starting with Discovery Channel or Lifetime, whichever she's in the mood for. I really don't care. She works hard. She's up at 7:00 a.m. four days a week, and for the latter part of the work week, beginning on Tuesday afternoon she's nonstop until Thursday night. She's home from school about 11 p.m. And if she's feeling up for it she'll take the teenager to school Friday morning. The teenager, she, will undoubtedly start her negotiating strategy the day before, reminding her mom that she's had to walk to and from school the entire week, and that it would be nice if she could just get dropped off.

This usually works. Although lately not so much.

My wife is getting more responsibilities at her internship site. Her supervisor really likes her, and so do a number of clients the site serves. So, the last thing I'm going to do is commandeer the television.

On a swift heel spin I dart across the room, check every corner of the house one last time, and with a smile that's been brewing since the early morning, I finally drop down into the couch. Two seconds later, the kids are up my ears, wanting this and needing that. I've got about a ten-second recharge in my batteries and then I'm off again, on another zany adventure with my kids as they tug me into their room asking me to play back any one of Disney's or Pixar's films. Toy Story 3 as well as Tangled are among the kids favorites. If they're in the mood, it's Jurassic Park.

Now we're talking!

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