The Poking Problem

It takes forever, F. O. R. E. V. E. R., for my kids to get their work done, especially Yo-Yo Boy.

For example, Mr. Handsome told him to mow the front yard. Yo-Yo Boy was happy to do it. He mowed for awhile before coming in to complain that he was tired. We checked his work. He had spent the time mowing shapes into the grass. (Another time when he was asked to mow the back yard, he spent his energy mowing the hay field, instead.)

I told Yo-Yo Boy to clean his room. While he was cleaning, or waiting for me to come check, he shredded a Styrofoam peanut, letting the pieces fall into the Lego box, onto the carpet, into the cracks between the wooden floor. So then he had to vacuum, too.

Washing the dishes is just one more opportunity to play. He stacks up cups and spoons and straws in such a fashion that, when he turns the spigot on, the stream of water gets diverted through various channels, creating waterfalls and the like.

So I called up my wise and brilliant girlfriend Shannon, and after much discussion, she came up with this solution: when I make up the kids’ chore lists each morning, I add an extra chore to the bottom of the list, one that doesn’t have to get done that day. I give them a deadline, and if they finish their jobs by the predetermined time, they can cross the last chore off the list.

For example:

Yo-Yo Boy’s To Do List
1. morning dishes
2. empty the compost
3. dust the living room
4. hang up laundry
5. wash down the kitchen cupboard doors

He has an hour and a half to do the first four items, and if he gets them done in time, he doesn’t have to do the last item on the list.

It works, folks! It really works! My girlfriend Shannon is simply amazing.


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