“I am not really good at cleaning up water.”

May 7, 2017
Notable Stats
Fake Jobs Per Hour (FJPH) – The velocity by which your child invents a new skill or explains that he or she cannot do a job because it is outside his or her skill set
Avoidant Laziness Work Factor (AVWF) – The measurable pre-conceived notion in your child’s mind that they must reject your “suggestion” to be helpful around the house, immediately. Measured in time to rejection. (Can be a negative number.)

As a parent, you realize that you will hear sentence construction that did not seem possible. Nouns and verbs thrown together in a porridge of impossibility as I did not realize “lemon” and “torment” or “nausea” and “pray” could find themselves in the same sentence, let alone same paragraph. But it is possible in the world of parenting.

Then there are the abilities of our kids. They surprise us. I coach Little League and when I go back just two years, what these kids were playing was some sort of cross between Billiards and Water Polo. Now I recognize the sport I played for a living. Impressive how quickly they learn.
But they also learn what they want to learn.
Take our incessant battle with cleaning up “after you are done.” For starters, never use those instructions. They do not work. The concept of done and a child is only found in an alternate universe. You will be more successful if you ask the wind the same question. Once you understand that, you will find peace. They are nomads by nature. But not like our native ancestors who preserved the land, re-grew it, maybe moved on to not drain the resources of that space, and were one with their surroundings. No, they are William Tecumseh Sherman from the Civil War. Marching towards the sea, burning everything in his wake, then arriving at the water and asking you for a snack. 
They are never actually done or they can never assess the concept of done. Either way, if you do not manage it, you will be walking in circles the entire weekend, chasing these squirrels around a tree.
Then to compound the situation, when you finally rope them in to look at the soot, ash, and charred remains of your house, caused by their own hands, they find some excuse for why they cannot possibly un-do the carnage.
My son when asked to clean up a water spill he was planning to leave behind, eventually replied, “I am just not good at cleaning up water.”
Is that even a skill? Am I being unreasonable by pushing my kids to do something that they genetically cannot accomplish? Is that bad parenting?
Then again, I am not asking him to be a paratrooper or perform a root canal. That would be unfair, but wiping up a spill?
Sure, if I base my assessment on how he has handled water spills, I could conclude he just cannot clean up water. Besides the fact that he takes an entire roll of paper towels for a teaspoon of spill, there is the interesting tactic that he will attempt to use enough paper towel to absorb the Indian Ocean. So with the equivalent of 65 absorbent poplar trees in his hand, he somehow leaves streaks of water behind that I have to go back and wipe up. How is that possible? The water was only displaced, moved to a new location on the table. Unhelpful and apparently not eco-friendly. We just wasted the Redwood Forest for nothing.
This is one reason we now have these super-absorbent hand towels that are reusable. Life saver and also eliminates those nightmares of waking up engulfed in dry paper towels while the house is flooding.
It turns out the skill required in cleaning up water is mostly one of effort. Actually trying to clean it up with the same determination as lobbying for dessert or an extra 30 minutes of “screen-time.” 
For now, I am hopeful the next spill will be easy and uneventful. No more wasted paper, no more excuses, and no more questions if cleaning up water can only happen if your DNA allows it.
- Doug Glanville
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