Friday, June 3, 2011

Ben Dover

It seemed like a good idea at the time....

My dog has this really annoying habit of dropping pieces of his food all over the floor when he eats. And then not cleaning up after himself. Kinda like some other members of this household.

And now that I'm sporting a physique that causes some serious water-displacement in the bathtub, bending over to do anything is just not worth the effort. Even if I spotted a hundred dollar bill, a gift card to Target, a coupon for a free pedicure, an autographed picture of Matt Damon naked; none of these things is important enough for me to lean down over my behemoth belly and pick up. (Now if it were Matt Damon himself who was on the ground and needed help getting up...different story....)

And so when I saw the scattered bits of dog food on my carpet a few days ago, I had a stroke of what I thought was absolute brilliance...

Me: Hey Rol?
Rollie: What, Momma?
Me: How would you like to earn a whole dollar? (Steep, I know, but this should illustrate to you just how damned annoying I find my dog. And how gigantic I'm becoming.)
Rollie: I would like that a lot.
Me: Okay...all you have to do is pick up Ollie's food and put it back in his dish.
Rollie: Sure!

Foolishly thinking my son would complete his task in twenty seconds, I waddled off to his room, where I planned to scrounge up the dollar from his wallet. I even heard Elsa pipe up that she wanted to help, and soon the sounds of some serious teamwork came from the other room.

This was quickly replaced by sounds of Elsa shrieking, followed by the sound of a heavy plastic dog food bowl tipping over.

I waddled back into the kitchen, where I discovered that the Kibbles and Bits had multiplied.

Me: Hey! What on earth is going on in here? (Translation: Holy crap, WTF are you jackals doing?)
Rollie: Elsa did it!
Me: ...Elsa dumped that entire bowl onto the floor?
Elsa: Rol-Rol did it!
Rollie: No I didn't, Elsa!
Me: Enough! Come on, you guys, this should have been the easiest dollar you'd ever make. Now pick it all up and put it back in the bowl, please.
Rollie (leaping up): I know what we need!
Me:  A couple of obedient little children?
Rollie runs past me and to the pantry, where I hear him rummage around for a few seconds before emerging with a little broom and dustpan.
Me: Oh, probably don't need that.
Elsa: I'll get one, too. Be right back.
Me: You guys...I think you're making this more complicated than it has to be. (Translation: This is going to be a complete f-ing disaster.)

But they seemed unaware of my skepticism and started busily sweeping up the food....and by busily I mean sort of pushing it around the floor with their respective brooms and more or less scattering it around even worse than it already was.

Our next pet is going to be a fish.
Me: You guys...can't you just...get it together in a pile and then pick it up? No, not like that, Els. Here, Rollie, show her how to do it. Rollie, no, you're just scattering it more. Look, there's pieces all the way over here now. Rollie. Look, bud, you're making a huge mess. Hey. Hey! You guys! Come on, seriously?! This doesn't have to be that hard!

Yes, I was probably handling the situation wrong. Yes, if a parenting expert had been watching this scene and taking notes, I would have gotten an earful about how I should have been positively reinforcing their effort, and offering suggestions in a pleasant tone of voice, and perhaps even getting down on my hands and knees and helping them do it more efficiently. Except that if got down on my hands and knees, I wouldn't be getting back up without the assistance of a few neighbors and a small forklift.

And so I left them to their mess and went about the house getting other things done. Like trying to remember where the hell I put my coffee from that morning. As I searched, an unstoppable inner monologue ran through my head: 

You know what? This is their fault. If they'd done it right in the first place, they'd be finished picking it all up, and a dollar-twenty-five richer by now. They know how to pick something up properly. I shouldn't have to stand there and cheerlead every freaking thing they attempt. They're old enough to know the right way to do something. If I had to hold their hand every time I wanted them to do follow simple directions, I would never get anything done, and they would grow up to be dependent little morons who needed Mommy to spoon-feed them every minutiae of their lives. Well, not this Mommy. They need to learn to listen to me and do what I say the first time I say it. 

Listen to them. Little shits. I bet they think this is funny. I bet they are trying to see how far they can push me before I finally cave and pick up all the damn dog food myself. And then they'll just wander away into another room, where they'll make another mess that they have no intention of cleaning up. Yeah, laugh it up, ankle-biters. Let's see who's laughing when I go over there and force you to pick up all the food with your smiling little mouths and spit it into the bowl. How 'bout them apples?

Okay, so I know the situation was getting a little out-of-hand. I know that I should have seen it escalating, should have come up with some creative way to make this task fun. I should have made up a song about putting dog food where it belongs, or turned it into a game or a craft or a competition to see who could pick it up the fastest or get the most pieces into the bowl first. Because really, isn't that how we eternally patient and fun-loving moms are supposed to treat everything? Isn't that how all our battles are supposed to be won? With happiness and harmony and soft voices and gentle words?

I'd Ben Dover for this any day. Sorry, Dad.
Well, this battle was won with a lot of yelling, threats, sarcasm, and the eventual decision on my end to vacuum the house so I couldn't hear them arguing over the bigger broom or pelting each other with bits of dog food. The end result was the same--the food was cleaned up. Forty-five minutes later. And I got to keep my dollar. I think I'll use it to rent Invictus from my local Redbox.


  1. The "inner dialogue" was somewhat reminiscent of "The Shining". Just saying....careful how you "correct them".

  2. Just a few extra pounds of pressure per second... Aw, hang in there. Soon you'll have even one more! Won"t that be fun?

  3. Thanks for the post it is really very informative. Boo