Conversations With Mancub

Mancub in his natural habit. He's got it pretty rough, folks. Warning: this may be hard to read, like the "Arms of an Angel" dog commercials.

Mancub in his natural habit. He’s got it pretty rough, folks.

Warning: this may be hard to read, like those “Arms of an Angel” dog commercials. Not really.

Yesterday, I made it home kind of late. After teaching my night composition class, I was hanging out with my sweet friend Katie who just had an operation in which THEY BROKE HER FACE. Actually, the doctor broke her nose in an effort to reset and repair sinus issues that have been making her miserable for years. Anyway, I showed up at her house with Tacos and Tom: the best sick buddy combo ever. Tacos from Rusty Taco and a Tom Hardy movie. In this case, Wuthering Heights with Tom as Heathcliff. And before you ask. YES she likes Tom Hardy and YES she wanted to watch it…I know some of you were thinking that this was some sort of bullying on my part because Katie was poor and helpless with her broken nose. All you naysayers can just go to h.e. double hockey sticks because she loves Tom Hardy too.

Anyway, back to Mancub. It’s his first week of summer vacation and I’m already struggling with how to keep his butt from permanently growing into his desk chair as he “catches up” for lost time (meaning the annoyance that is high school) on his favorite past time: video games. During the school year, we don’t make him clean the kitchen (his normal chore) on Wednesdays because that’s when he goes to Youth Group with Watergirl and he needs time to do his homework and practice (theoretically) his horn and do the various good Samaritan deeds he does throughout the community and his many other philanthropic pursuits. Well, here’s the rub. It’s summer–so he doesn’t really have homework. He has youth group but that’s only for a couple of hours.

I’m over at Katie’s, selflessly hanging out with my medicated friend watching Tom Hardy (hey-she would have picked it if she had a choice! I swear) on Katie’s supersoft bed in her immaculate apartment when Nate calls. He’s asking for money to go to this restaurant called the Cotton Patch tomorrow for lunch. I’ve been there: it’s ok…good not great. However, it survives in Tyler for two reasons: it’s a family restaurant that serves everything deep fried. I bet I could ask them to deep fry my sweet tea and they would.

Restaurants have a hard time surviving in Tyler unless they are pretentiously expensive and serve all manners of booze. This one restaurant called “Double D’s” caused a big ruckus when it opened across the street from the high school and next to Toys R Us. That’s just good marketing, folks. Eventually it went out of business, so then it became some kind of chicken shack and now it’s for sale again.

Mancub knows I don’t carry cash so he’s learning to plan ahead where this is concerned. Never mind that he and Watergirl just went to Chili’s earlier (with the sisters). But I stopped by the ATM for him anyway. I also stopped by and got The Engineer and I some frozen custard. I didn’t get the kids any because I’m mean.

I came in the living room with the custard and Mancub’s like, “Did you get me some?” Um, no. I’m the meanest mom around, and sometimes I gotta remind him of that. Plus he just said he was avoiding junk food for “a while.” He gets this from me. Awhile means one thing when I’m dieting and another when I’m doing something painful like watching Sci-fi.

Earlier, he and Watergirl were making juice in the kitchen. They juiced an entire pineapple, some carrots and anything else they could get their hands on.They might have considered juicing the chihuahua but he’s mostly fat pockets which is not healthy.When they were finished, Mancub left the juicer exactly the way it was and didn’t rinse anything off. He gets THAT trait from his dad. Apparently if you just leave your dishes lying around or kick off your dirty undies next to the shower, it disappears like magic–presumably by our invisible butler named Jeeves.

If you’ve never juiced before, you should know that juice pulp, when left on a juicer, takes approximately ten seconds before it magically turns into a hardened, ancient oatmeal consistency that somehow manages to become part of the molecular structure of the juicer. The pulp clings to the juicer parts like the Gosslin kids used to cling to Kate before she got the hair extensions.

“Nate. You didn’t clean the juicer.”

“Oh yeah. It’s my day off.”

“I’m sorry? Day off?” I ask, with a slight lilt in my voice that suggests that I don’t understand English.

“Yeah. Youth group day.”

“How does that translate to “I get to leave a bunch of crap for mom to clean up?” In case you really thought we had a butler named Jeeves.

“Um…”

“Plus, what do you do today that’s left you so exhausted? Sleeping in? Hanging out with Watergirl? Napping? Watching reruns of Avatar? Fighting off creepers in Minecraft? I know these are all extremely taxing activities but I’m gonna have to ask you to clean up that juicier.”

So he did. Call CPS if you must.

Your Teen and the Chore Question

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(Photo: my “clean” kitchen). Mancub is supposed to clean the kitchen before he goes to bed. However, there is a huge canyon between what he sees as clean and what I see as clean. Think Grand Canyon sized. So we’ve been cheerfully chatting about what “clean” means. I’m sure you’re picking up on my tone here…about as cheerful as a millionaire on tax day. Sometimes, enforcing chores makes for a rough night.
What I view as clean, Mancub views as hospital sterile. White glove inspection winner. You get the drift.What he views as clean is somewhere between an episode of Hoarders and moving day for the Gosslins.

We have got to find a happy medium here if we want peace to return to the jungle. It’s not just him; it’s the species. Teens naturally do not want to take time away from more worthy pursuits such as Mine Craft and Skyping with their Watergirls. On a scale from 1-10, I’d say finishing up chores is somewhere around -150.
I realize not everyone agrees with having their teens do chores. One of my friends just does everything herself to avoid the never-ending heartache of trying to make her teens help out around the house. Sometimes, admittedly, it’s similar to trying to rope a rattlesnake or to go cat fishing with your bare hands. Remember that show “Hillbilly Hand Fishing”? A breeze compared to getting your teen to cooperate on the chore thing.
I just feel like it’s important that Mancub learn to do these tasks of doing chores, and that learning to do things you don’t like to do is just part of life. I for one do not enjoy squishing my hands through 2 pounds of hamburger in order to make the perfect meatloaf, but cubs gotta eat.

How do you solve the chore question? I’d love to hear what works or doesn’t work in your jungle!