I’m smart enough to know what goes in everyone else’s houses. Yes, I know that other people’s children are always respectful, co-operative and anxious to do whatever they can to help around the house.
Possibly, that obvious fact accounts for some of my insecurities regarding the complete lack of discipline in my own house and the refusal of my children to subscribe to the concept of chores.
And yet, every now and then, something beautiful happens and we accomplish a task – any task – in an atmosphere of cheerful collaboration.
Last week, as Thanksgiving dinner loomed, I optimistically instructed my offspring to show up half an hour early to help get the meal on the table – a delightful vision that I created in my head to replace the more realistic image of them sitting down precisely at the stated time and demanding to know why they don’t have food in front of them.
I wasn’t kidding myself of the likelihood of actually getting any help, but like a tiny beam of light on a dark night, one little star fell into alignment and I suddenly had a kitchen full of chattering teenagers getting out dishes, cutlery and glasses. I thought it was the most beautiful thing imaginable until after the meal, when they all stuck around to clear the table and help clean the kitchen.
I’m not sure who has taken my children and replaced them with these strange beings, but I’m okay with the substitution.
Even if my real children do return, it makes me feel that, when they leave for the big wide world, they might just understand that the dishes aren’t magically cleared away by a fairy as soon as you leave the room.
Ah, the bliss of that small, glorious moment of perfection.