Jane is a very busy girl. It sometimes seems impossible for her to get everything done. This should be a great opportunity to learn about setting priorities. For some reason, however, I don’t think the teenage brain has yet developed enough to set reasonable priorities.
Take last night, for example. Jane had a tremendous amount of homework. I reminded her that there was also a lot of laundry waiting to be folded – laundry being her primary household chore. She also needed to clean up her mess on the dining room table from her murder diorama project.
“Ok,” she said. “I also plan to clean my room.”
“That’s a laudable goal since your room is a mess but I don’t think you have time for that tonight. You have a lot of homework, a lot of laundry, and the dining room table to clean. Those need to all be higher priorities for you.”
When I returned from my women’s group at church, the mess was still on the dining room table. The laundry was still waiting in baskets by the couch. And she was in her room.
I tried to open the door but she had shoved a dozen large blankets (previously used as a pallet during a sleepover) up against the door. She tried to wave me off. Instead of leaving, I poked my head in and said, “Don’t forget you’ve still got laundry and the dining room table.”
“Yes, I know. I’m almost done in here.”
“You really didn’t have time for this.”
“Are you saying that I didn’t need to clean my room?”
“Yes, it needed to be cleaned but not tonight. You had other chores you were told to do.”
“Ok. I’m almost done!”
At least half an hour later, I tried again. When I mentioned the laundry, she exclaimed, “Oh! I forgot about that!”
“Ok, so it’s twenty minutes past your bedtime and you said you planned to shower tonight. Daddy will not be happy with you if you don’t clean up your mess in the dining room. And there’s still the laundry.”
She finally went to bed after cleaning up her mess and taking a shower but without touching the laundry. The next morning, she walked into my room in her socked feet and said, “See! This is why I never clean my room. I can’t find my shoes!”
She never cleans her room, she says. I guess she means unless she has other, even less desirable chores to do. I wonder if she even noticed the irony of complaining indignantly about doing a chore she had been told not to do.