“You can eat from the trash as long as your school work is done!”
The spring air has forced our windows open lately. The gentle breezes move through our house ushering in the scent of fresh nature and new beginnings. This air movement also carries voices from inside of the house to our sidewalk and beyond. And last week, if you happened to be on our sidewalk or beyond, you may have heard me shout the above phrase at my children.
You may have then tried to call child services, which I can respect. But in case you weren’t able to get a hold of them and we’re going to try again this week, let me provide some context.
We home school my daughter Nola(7). She attends the educational establishment officially registered with the state as, Unparalleled Awesomeness Acquisition School. Why? Because we can’t be stopped.
Nola is the best pupil we have. Kind of like how Earth’s sun is the best sun it has. If she can focus she usually flies through her work. The problem is she has a sister and two brothers that don’t have to do school yet and she often feels the magnetic pull to whatever fun activity they are up to. And on Nola’s “scale of fun”—and most people’s—school rests at firm zero. So any activity a one or above is her jam. This could range from building blanket forts to walking in laps around our kitchen island—with no apparent motive, except that activity is a one and school is a zero.
This particular day Nola had spent the whole morning living in the one and greater zone. I spent the whole morning telling her to get back to work for the love of all that is holy. I finally dropped the “you won’t be able to eat lunch until your worksheet is done” hammer.
Sometimes unparalleled awesomeness needs motivation to acquire.
Lunch was in an hour, the single page I was asking her to do would take her ten minutes, maybe. It was either this or tell her that for every problem she doesn’t finish by noon, a puppy somewhere dies.
I think the lunch thing was the better path. I’ll keep the other in my pocket though.
Noon rolled around and it was a, make-a-giant-pot-of-ramen-noodles kind of day. The kids love ramen because, they hate nutrition. We often have to force colored food on them. But that day the only thing I was forcing was my will to carry on.
I threw plates of noodles in front of everybody and started cutting up food for Remy, our 11-month-old. He is eating people-food now. Much of lunchtime is me trying to reduce a meal into dime-sized chunks faster than he can eat them. I kind of spaced checking to see if Nola had finished her school work by the time she started eating. It’s funny how the needs of multiple kids can dilute the enforcement of your decrees.
The kids got done eating and put their plates on the counter. Violet(5) lifted the trash lid to throw something away and happened to spot the empty ramen packages resting on top. The girls love to eat the crunchy ramen crumbs at the bottom. She pulled out the orange, wrapper and asked if she could eat the trash food.
I looked up from Remy’s plate and said sure, since it was only surface level trash. Nola runs over and snatches another off the top and holds it up.
“Can I eat trash food too?”
It was then that I remembered the lunch/worksheet motivation I had previously put forth. I forgot to follow through so I thought I’d modify it a bit. Frustrated from the food-cutting interruption, I yelled, “You can eat from the trash as long as your school work is done!”
It was, and she did.
I paused for a minute, replaying my exclamation. Then darted over to the window to see if anyone was on their cell phone, speaking my house number into the receiver. I didn’t see anybody. But if I happened to miss you, then hopefully this provided some context.
I’m really looking forward to the dead of summer. When we can seal up the house and yell about trash food all we want. Because if you randomly sampled parents throughout the day, they would probably all sound like lunatics.
And I think every time a parent is taken out of context, somewhere, we lose yet another puppy.