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  • catherine@allaboutwriters

Such a thankless task.

It's groundhog's day. (Again, needless to say.)


As I look around the lounge room, I can see a fluffy pink jumper under the couch, the couch blanket in the corner on the floor, a dirty plate on the middle nesting table alongside one of four of the open books scattered around. The door on the TV cabinet sits ajar, with the wide-open door of the coat closet facing it on the other side of the room. School bags spill halfway out of the bottom of the closet, which is littered with hats that should be on the upper shelf in a basket. The Game of Life sits at the side of the rug where it has been abandoned...though admittedly after being packed away. Can we claim a small victory there? A soft toy sits atop a hand-made cardboard chair on the TV cabinet, with some sticky-tape, a rogue few LEGO pieces, a green dice, and, randomly, a go-karting licence from about a month ago. Just to clarify, it hasn't been there all month. A couple more books sit atop the side table, closed in this case.


And that's just the lounge.


The moans, sighs, complaints and endless questions attack me from all sides in three distinct pitches of outrage, disbelief and misery. "Are we done?", and, "Why do I have to do this?" are on a thirty-second repeating cycle, as are my consistent answers about using eyes to look and being a member of a family. Every so often, I shake things up a bit with a point-and-name around the room, identifying which child has dispersed which item as they finished with it - in the place they stood. I busy myself with tasks alongside them, wondering how it is that we are in this place again, having only gone through this torture this morning. Tidying up is such a thankless task, but living a life of tidy maintenance still eludes us.


At this point, I realise that child number one didn't wash the lunchboxes from yesterday, while number two has the dishwasher to unpack...again. Trying to maintain a calm and almost inviting tone, I prod them gently towards these tasks. Instantly, I am hit with a gale of wails (from number one) and explosion of outrage (courtesy of number two) that force me to turn my head as I almost laugh out loud at the predictable beauty of these responses. I gather my composure and head for the laundry to unload the machine. Sure enough, they gather themselves too, with their straight out refusals having gained no traction. And so we plod on.


Child number three, who in this case is responsible for more than her share of disarray, has decided to join Team Parents, and asks loudly how she can be more helpful, how it's not fair that Mum and Dad have to pick up her mess. She's smart, this one, knows exactly how to form an allegiance at just the right moment, just as privileges are about to be threatened or revoked. Her siblings are less than impressed, glaring at her and rolling their eyes in outrage at her switch in loyalty. But we are past the point of resistance now, past the time to hang others out to dry. Finally, we are into the phase of begrudging acceptance. They pass their eyes over the room once more to put an end to this torture.


I battle with myself over whether to push for what I think is a sock to be retrieved from under the back of the couch, or call a truce and move onto things more enjoyable with my sweet, lovely children. Could be that sock will push one of them over the edge into an oblivion of outrage...which nobody wants at this stage, be it justified or not. But with that small one on side, I might just push it...


Wish me luck!

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