Day: September 23, 2006


I wanted a fun mother/daughter movie for Kiki and I to watch together. I picked up Uptown Girls. Every preview I saw billed this as a happy little comedy. For a comedy it was on the bittersweet side. This would not have been a problem except that the little girl’s dad is in a vegetative coma. For Kiki the whole concept of “human vegetable” was completely new and it sucked all the fun right out of the movie. Also new concepts were the idea that things can be repossessed if we don’t pay our bills and obsessive/compulsive hypochondria.

Kiki now lists this movie as the saddest movie she has ever seen. We spent 90 minutes after the movie was over talking about all the issues and gently shifting Kiki into happy thoughts. On the upside I was able to point out to her how much luckier she is than anyone in the movie. They all had loads of money, but Kiki has so much family that the chances of her ever being left all alone in the world are just about zero. Kiki liked that thought. At one point she asked why anyone would ever make a movie so sad. I answered that some people have been through things that sad and they need this movie to see that they can survive sad things.

Remember, Uptown Girls is a comedy. The issues in it that rocked Kiki’s world were only passing plot points as far as the movie was concerned. I’m going to be more careful about movie choices for Kiki for awhile. Yes she does need to know about some of this awful stuff that is in the world, but I’d like her to have basic knowledge before she gets sideswiped by living it through fictional movie characters. I’m thinking Fried Green Tomatoes and Awakenings are out for a while here.

Scavenger Hunt report

The kids did all their work. Every last scavenger list item was checked off. It took until 2 pm, but it was all done and the house has been salvaged from the mess. For their reward the kids unanimously chose going to Discovery Park. This is a park in Pleasant Grove that has really cool play structures, but we don’t go there often because the drive is about 15 minutes. Originally I said we could only have the park as a reward if the work was all done by 1 pm. They dawdled. 1 pm arrived and some of the work was still undone. I stated that the park was no longer an option. Kiki threw a fit. This was the absolute end of her life. She was never going to get to Discovery Park because obviously the whole universe hates her and would conspire to make sure she never had any fun. Ever.

The tantrum did not impress me. What changed my mind was the cheerful announcement at 1:10 from Link that he was all done could we go to the park now? Gleek and Patches joined forces with him. They all gave me bright eyed, anticipatory stares. I did a quick mental calculation and realized that if we left for the park at 2 pm, the kids could play for two hours and we could still be back in time for me to get to my 4:30 event. I informed them of this. Then I informed Kiki. The three younger kids descended upon Kiki’s full laundry basket and began a laundry folding assembly line. That basket of laundry had been the sticking point. Kiki had done lots of reading trying to pretend that the laundry would fold itself. This time she didn’t learn about the consequences of dawdling. Instead she got to learn how much her brothers and sister love her and how willing they are to help her if she would just stop locking them out.

The trip to the park was a good one. All the kids had fun. I’m calling the Scavenger Hunt a success. I don’t know how successful it will be in future weeks though. This week it was new and exciting, if I do it too often it will become routine. Hopefully we’ll keep the house in better shape this coming week and extreme measures won’t be necessary next Saturday.

Housework Scavenger Hunt

Problem: The house is a wreck and the mess is driving me crazy

Problem: I cannot clean it up by myself while allowing kids to play because they out number me and can make messes faster than I can clean.

Problem: They made most of the mess, why should I be the maid?

Solution: Make the kids do the cleaning

Problem: Making kids do work is unpleasant. They complain, whine, and fail to work while I run around trying to make them work. I get increasingly frustrated and angry because I feel like I’m doing all the work anyway only with additional stress of feeling like they should be working.

Problem: I’m still fighting a sinus infection and thus I’m extra tired and cranky to begin with

Problem: Howard is not at home to back me up with his ultra voice

Problem: The kids don’t want to work, they don’t see any reward in it at all.

Solution: I created a scavenger hunt list for each of the kids. On it were the chores that they were expected to complete. The lists are scaled to the ages of the kids. Patches has the shortest list, Kiki has the longest. When all four lists are completed we will do something as a family for a reward. The kids get to vote on the reward. The person who finishes their work first gets the tiebreaker vote should there be a conflict over what the reward should be. I get veto power over the reward.

In theory this provides motivation for them to actually work. I don’t mind helping with chores. I hate having to get mean in order to motivate them to get their work done. We’ll see how it goes.