Monday, January 15, 2024

When my kids won the Sunday trash collection staredown

For many years, Sunday evening has been the time when we collect garbage and recyclables from around our house and roll them out to the street for pick-up the next morning.

When we first moved in and the kids were little, I would handle this chore alone. I would walk around the house emptying various wastebaskets and lining them with fresh grocery bags, dump the recyclable items into the bin that sits next to our driveway, and stuff everything else into a black plastic garbage bag that would get thrown into our large Kimble Services trash container.

At some point maybe 15 years ago, I decided it was time for the kids to start emptying their own trash and helping me with this chore. I assigned each child a room or rooms for which they were responsible. I think there was even a little chart on our refrigerator.

It seemed like a good system in theory. In practice, it was less than ideal.

The problem was that once I decided it was garbage time  usually around 6pm on Sunday  there was a better-than-even chance some of the kids wouldn't be home, and an even better chance that few would conform to my timeline.

I would yell up the stairs that it was time to collect the trash, and maybe one kid, sometimes two, would immediately respond. I would then have to remind at least one of them, usually two, a second time to empty the cans in their designated rooms.

Often a third reminder was needed.

Eventually it would get done, but it took far longer than if I had simply done the whole thing myself.

I know what I should have done, of course. I should have threatened punishment for the malfeasant. I should have incentivized them not only to do it, but to do it immediately when told. I should have stayed strong to help them understand (a) this was not a request, and (b) there would be penalties for those who didn't listen.

Instead I made the poorest parenting decision possible. I chose the way of the tired and the impatient. After a couple of months, I just started doing the whole thing myself again. It was quicker and much less of a hassle.

It was also an undeserved victory for my children. The hammer should have been thrown down.

I was just so chronically fatigued in those days that the path of least resistance was my default.

For what it's worth, my nearly-18-year-old son Jack will help me collect the garbage any time I ask, so clearly we did something right with him.

But the rest of those ingrates? For those among them who plan on having children, I want to be there when they try and fail to get my grandkids to empty the trash for them.

Of course, knowing them, they'll have their own kids trained correctly.

It makes me angry just thinking about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment