Awhile ago, I called my mom in a desperate, desperate moment.
The boys were wearing diapers over their heads. They kept poking each other in the stomach and talking like babies. (Toddler baby talk = the bane of my existence).
They were annoying the heck out of me, and I couldn’t get them to listen to a word I said.
MOM YOU HAVE TO HELP ME. THESE KIDS ARE BEING AWFUL. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH THEM.
“Oh, I was thinking about this, Jessica. They need some sandpaper. That’s what.”
SANDPAPER? (And I’m wondering if all those years of me sleep deprivation I’ve caused her with my random questions and worries has caused some serious mental damage.)
“Yes. Doesn’t Todd have any? I’m sure you have some in the garage. Go get them some sandpaper. Take them out on the porch, and just make them sand the porch, the whole thing. You guys should really redo that, anyways.”
It was almost as annoying as the baby talk, honestly. These children are nearly driving me to an early grave with their sinfulness, and this dear woman is suggesting that we need a porch makeover??
It took a few weeks of this, actually. Me: whining about their boredom, their misbehavior. And mom: “They need jobs!”
Finally one day I gave it a try. It was the day the boys had taken all the chairs out of the kitchen and partitioned in the living room in an apparent rendition of a Star Wars Episode No One Has Seen. They were arguing over who was the “controller” and hammering each other with the rails of said chairs.
I walked over, nonchalantly as I could, and ordered, Guys, I need you to help me wash these windows.
Of course they looked at me like I was Darth Vader himself, incarnate. But can I tell you, that the most magical, heavenly thing happened?
They DID wash the windows.
And furthermore, can I dare to admit what resulted a mere twenty minutes, 75 rags, and ten gallons of vinegar water later?
They were happy! Not happy like “I got that toy from Target, happy.” Like, genuinely, proud, calm, focused…well-behaved.
It was eerie.
Not one to draw unfounded conclusions, I tried it again with woodwork-washing. The same mystical transformation – from thumb-twiddling little hellions to smiling, peaceful human beings.
I have now performed this experiment daily, for the last few months, and I can assure you:
Work. They needed work.