Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Contemplative Time

What I really should be doing is cleaning my house because my visiting teachers are coming over and my house currently looks hey-at-least-the-kids-are-alive level rather than I'm-a-fully-functioning-responsible-adult level. I think that's because we've been clinging to sanity this week; but hopefully things are on the upswing.

Part of the reason our house is falling apart at the seams is because the kids have been digging in their heels about doing any chore. Our obedience bean system kind of fell apart, so we had a family night lesson on everybody pitching in (I feel like we do that a couple of times a year (at least)) and the girls seemed re-excited about helping out around the house. They want to keep the obedience bean system, but we're going to add another facet to the program (checklists for each room so they know what "clean" entails).

Unfortunately, their enthusiasm had dissolved by Tuesday (and since FHE is on Mondays that means they weren't excited about chores for very long) after school.

"Hayley didn't misbehave at school today, so can we go to the park with her today?" Rachel asked.

They'd arranged to play at the park on the bus yesterday but then Hayley's mom found a note in her backpack from her teacher that wasn't exactly positive so Hayley had to cancel, so we went to the park by ourselves.

"Unfortunately, I have dinner on the stove already and Benjamin is sleeping and has been so miserable today. I don't think we can go," I explained. "But even if we could go, there'd be chores we'd have to do before we could play."

At this Rachel slouched down into what we call "the gorilla" pose. She stomped her gorilla feet and rolled her gorilla eyes and moaned her gorilla groan.

"Do I have to?" she moaned.



"Because every Wednesday morning the garbage truck comes by, which means that every Tuesday night you have to take out the trash."

"Can't I do it after dinner?"

"No; you can do it now."

"But I'll do it after dinner!"

"No, you won't. It will be dark after dinner. No one wants to take the trash out at night."

"I do!" she lied. "I will!"

"You won't," I insisted. "You'll whine about it being dark and scary and then I'll have to go out with you to help you wheel the can to the curb and I don't want to do that in the dark. I want to help you while it's still light."

"Mom, please..." she pleaded.

"Rachel, just do your job. It won't even take five minutes if you just do it."

"FINE!" she screamed, and stomped off to the bathroom.

The bathroom is a magical room of transformation.

Rachel was in there for about fifteen minutes before she waltzed out with the bathroom garbage and proceeded to cheerfully collect the rest of the whole house trash. On her way out the door she said, "Oh, Mom! When I'm finished with the garbage can I play with Miriam? She was looking a little lonely when I came home from school. I think she needs to play a game."

"Of course you can play with your sister," I said, flabbergasted by her positive attitude. "You don't have to ask permission to do that!"

"I know. I just thought I'd check to see if there was anything else you needed me to do first," she said.

Whatta, whatta? Is this the same child who was stomping her feet and moaning and groaning about doing one chore just a half hour previously?

I was floored.

"No, just the garbage is fine. You're free to play after that," I said.

But when she came inside she noticed that Benjamin was making awake noises.

"Baby's awake!" she announced.

"I'll get him in a minute," I said. "I just need to get all the sharps put away and get the corn bread into the oven."

"We'll make him happy," Rachel volunteered and took Miriam into his room where they sang songs for him, read him his favourite stories, put on a puppet show, dumped a million toys into his bed, and played the piano while I put away the rest of the dishes that Miriam hadn't (sharps (knives and such) and glassware (which goes up too high for her to reach)) and finished getting dinner ready.

That is the magic of the bathroom.

I don't know what it is about that room, but whenever Rachel's grumpy and if she excuses herself to go to the bathroom she'll emerge as a new person. It happens every single morning. Sometimes Andrew will even stand in her doorway and direct her immediately into the bathroom when she gets up in order to avoid the inevitable thrashing about and moaning on the couch ("I! Just! Want! To! Sleep!"). She'll spend ten to fifteen minutes in the bathroom and then come back out all rational and "What's for breakfast?"

We were talking about this last night. Auntie Em used to do the very same thing—escape to the bathroom, collect herself, and fix her attitude. It was known as contemplative time (CT for short).

I don't know why Emily chose the bathroom for CT and I'm not really sure why Rachel has either. My guess, however, is that they always (or at least often) shared a bedroom. With three girls right in a row, Katharine, Sarah, and Emily spent years sharing a room with one sister or another. Rachel shares a room with Miriam.

When she needs absolute, uninterrupted alone time, her bedroom doesn't quite offer sanctuary (though it would be nice if it did), so Rachel heads to the bathroom.

And I'm totally okay with this as long as the magic keeps happening. 

1 comment:

  1. I wish this worked for me althought truth be told rarely do I get 15 minutes alone anywhere....