I should be used to getting up early. I mean, I’ve been doing it for nearly two months now. That’s plenty of time to adjust, right? One would think. But still, I’m exhausted to the point of passing out nearly every night. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve awakened on the couch in the middle of the night, still dressed, makeup smeared across my face, hair plastered to my cheek with drool. I know, I know, I’m totally hot. And every morning, I perform my ritual of blindly flailing my arm around in an attempt to either hit the snooze button, knock the clock off the table, or stop time altogether.
Last night, after helping my kids with their homework, we ate the dinner I cooked, then, I told my kids, “I need you guys to clean up the kitchen because I have work to do.” I took my laptop and retired to my room where I could work in peace. At some point, before finishing, I passed out asleep without even checking on my kids to make sure they’d done what they were told. Big mistake. Big. Huge.
This morning, after playing the snooze game for half an hour, I got a text from Savannah who had just walked out to the bus with Austin. “So, you might be disgusted when you go downstairs.”
I weighed my options. I could simply stay in bed and never set foot downstairs. Yes, that’s my plan! I’ll stay in bed, I decided! Then I remembered I’d have to call the school and let them know I wouldn’t be in today. How would that phone call go over? “Um hi, this is Dawn Meehan. I can’t make it in to work today. What? My kids? Oh no, they’re fine. No, I’m not sick. Oh, well you see, my daughter warned me that I’d be disgusted if I went downstairs so I’m simply avoiding the whole situation. What’s that? Don’t bother coming in tomorrow or the next day either? I’m fired?”
Dreading her response, but firmly believing in being prepared, I texted back, “Why?”
“First of all, the dishes are still out and there are bugs all over them. Someone spilled cocoa powder in the pantry and tried to clean it up by sweeping it all the way to the front door and putting it under the rug so there’s this trail of it still. Annnnnnd, the garage door was open all night.”
That’s all? I thought. I can handle dirty dishes sitting out all night. It wouldn’t be the first time. Although I like things cleaned up before I go to bed, now and then I leave the mess and clean it before I leave for work or give my kids instructions to clean up when they get home from school. I figured Savannah had probably just seen a stray BOUS (bug of unusual size). As far as the cocoa powder, I figured I could sweep that up in an instant.
And then I walked downstairs.
Jackson had spilled the entire, brand-new container of cocoa powder in the pantry. Instead of wiping it up right there, he, with his brilliant thirteen-year-old brain, figured it would be easier to sweep it under the rug. Never mind that the rug was through the kitchen, down the hall and across the entryway by the front door. And did he use a broom for this endeavor? Nope, that wouldn’t be nearly messy enough. Instead, he used the Swiffer Wet Jet. Here’s a riddle for you. What smells like brownies and floor cleaner? The Willy Wonka style chocolate river o’ sludge that runs through my house!
Then I walked in to the kitchen and saw the mounds of dirty dishes on the table, the island, the countertops, the stove. The crockpot had a couple pieces of chicken floating in a sea of congealed sauce. And ants were crawling over much of it.
You know that scene in The Exorcist where Linda Blair’s head spins around? That was me afterI got ahold of myself and calmed down.
I quickly left the kitchen before I completely lost it. Lexi immediately started unloading the dishwasher and cleaning up. I started scrubbing the chocolate-flavored grout between the tiles of my floor. I did that for about ten minutes. You may be wondering why I didn’t wake up Jackson and demand he start cleaning immediately. I needed some time to calm down, and taking my rage out on the discolored grout seemed like a good way to do it. Before I left for work, however, I gave very specific instructions to each and every one of my kids that there was not to be a single dirty dish sitting out or the merest hint of chocolate dust on the floor when I got home from work or they would all be sleeping out on the lanai with the lizards, frogs, turtles, cockroaches, alligators, snakes, and other creatures that would eat them in their sleep. What? My story was no worse than Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood!
When I got home this evening, I discovered that Austin had locked Jackson outside and cleaned the cocoa powder mess himself. When I asked him why he didn’t just make Jackson do it, he said, “Yeah right. If I’d let Jackson inside, he would’ve made a hundred more messes and there would still be chocolatey floors and knowing him, he’d probably smear it on the walls and carpet too somehow!”
“Good point! I mean, don’t lock your brother outside.” Still, little tendrils of anger, nay disappointment, continued to wrap themselves around me, so when the kids asked, “What’s for dinner?” I replied, “Whatever you make because I’m not cooking for you guys if you aren’t going to do your part and help clean up when I ask. You can make sandwiches or have bowls of cereal or soup or whatever you want to make. Whatever you get out and mess up, you WILL clean up, however. They put their heads together and decided on making chicken nuggets because then they’d only have one cookie sheet to clean. After their chicken nuggets, they were still hungry, so they made ham and cheese omelets and toast. And you know what? They cleaned up every last crumb. (I think the Linda Blair thing scared them straight. Nothing like seeing mom’s head spin around to make you shape up.)
And no, I didn’t take pictures this time. I was trying way too hard not to commit homicide to take pictures of the mess.