Capturing the moment

I’m forever fussing about the chaos, the noise, the activity, the filth, the intensity of the goings-on in my home. You’re aware of that, right? Go ahead and admit it—you’ve been reading this blog, hand over your mouth, gasping at the dangerous antics of my progeny, and wagging your finger at what a negligent slacker of a parent that I am. Yes?

But let me share with you a secret: approximately once every three months, everything, all the bits and pieces of my immoderate and insane life, comes together. This coming together probably has less to do with me and more to do with some cosmic force of nature, such as the stars lining up in some precise mathematical formation. And then when that happens, all the world smiles at us and everything is perfect and happy and peaceful—good karma, peace on earth, yin and yang, etc. Granted, the reprieve only lasts for about ten minutes, but let’s not knock it, okay?

Yesterday we had one of these moments. It was the first day of a new routine with a new rule: If the kids get all their morning chores done by 8:30, they get a candy corn. Yep, just a candy corn. But it’s a powerful candy corn, mind you, stronger than me, the loud-mouthed nag that I am, because it inspires them to make their beds, straighten their rooms, brush their teeth, comb their hair, bring in the firewood, empty the compost, feed the animals, pick up the shoes, and take their medicine, all without saying nary a word. Amazing stuff, candy corn.

However, I am a smart mama, thank you very much, and when I realized the power of the common candy corn, I promptly harnessed it, like any good environmentalist.

So yesterday morning at 8:30, I doled out the corn, one kernel per child, and then commenced to read to Yo-Yo and Becca Boo for the next hour and ten minutes at which point they took a fifteen minute break to fly Yo-Yo’s brand new, remote-controlled helicopter than he bought with his own money. Once the allotted play time was up, I assigned each child a task. And—KA-BOOM!—that’s when It Happened. The pressure changed, the air lightened, and I heard angels singing. I glanced about and realized my life was perfect, just perfect.

Now, let me ask you: What does a smart mama do at a moment like that? She grabs her camera and documents the moment, yes indeed, that’s what she does.

First, here is The Baby Nickel hanging up the socks, undies, and rags on the drying rack.

He was pleased as punch to have been given such an important task, and he took me very seriously when I reminded him to shake out the clothing.

So shake he did.

Second, here is Sweetsie washing the dishes.

She’s young enough to still swell up with pride when I tell her it’s time to do the dishes, but she’s old enough to mask her Proud Puff with a steady stream of whining.

And she’s still young enough to play when she washes the dishes (come to think of it, none of my other children have outgrown that phase yet).

Third, here is Miss Becca Boo scrubbing the shower.

She likes to pull the shower curtain closed so she can splash water all around.

When she does that I cringe inside, but I don’t say anything as long as the job is done to my satisfaction.

And finally, here is Yo-Yo hard at work doing his independent studies, the little helicopter by his side.

In the course of these photos he yelled at me, dropped his pencil on the floor, got up to look out the window (he mistook the cat for a skunk), and caressed the helicopter repeatedly.

(There is a chance that the good moment was more a result of the new toy and less a result of the stars’ alignment…)

Are you listening closely? Can you hear the angels?

Shortly thereafter things deteriorated somewhat. The Baby Nickel dumped plant dirt all over the rug in the quiet room and on the floor in the hallway. The kids got cranky because they were hungry. Later on Sweetsie smashed a book into Nickel’s eye, transforming it into a purple-swollen-and-red-gashed, fancy-looking peeper.

BUT! The angels did sing. We can pull it off and give the illusion that we are The Ideal Homeschool Family Complete With Well-Trained and Hardworking Children. So what if it doesn’t happen but four times a year? So what if we fall apart afterwards? The moment did happen, and whether it was due to my lucky stars or the candy corn or the helicopter is irrelevant. It happened, and that’s what matters.



  • Jennifer Jo

    Kate, I don’t think I’ve ever NOT succumbed to the candy bribery tool—ever since the kids were little I’ve rewarded them with a piece of candy after rest time IF they were quiet. And yes, I’m fully aware that everything will shift in about eight days…

    LisaZ, So did you all get the work done? Sounded very industrious!


  • Sarah

    I love your documentation of the Aha! moment. It feels so good when it all comes together, even if it’s only for a day. The picture of Sweetsie at the sink reminds me our visit when she and Sculpey Hair spent ALOT of time ‘washing’ dishes.


  • Lisa Zahn

    That’s funny. We are starting a new Saturday chores routine today, too, but even for my 9 and 11 year olds it’s not QUITE as much as you are doing. I thought we’d start a bit slower, lol. So I just read your paragraph about what your kids have to do by 8:30 a.m. for a candy corn piece to my daughter and said, “and you thought WE were being strict!” It’s already 9:55 a.m., 11yo is still asleep and the rest of us are in jammies but in five minutes our “home blessing hour” begins and DD9 will be cleaning the bathroom, DS11 will be awake and vacuuming the floors, Dear Mom(too old to say) will also have to be dressed and dusting and doing laundry, and Dear Dad (also too old) will be sweeping and mopping. Whew! I hope we can pull it off…

  • Kate

    I agree those moments deserve a post. And you have finally succumbed to the wonders of a chore candy! Enjoy the magic it brings. While it lasts.


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