An article in a recent New Yorker, “Why Are American Kids So Spoiled?,” was so dumb that I’ll have to blog about why (the blogger’s revenge), but it did remind me that I intended to press for Mookie to acquire some chores upon turning 5, and haven’t done it. So I said, “Big girls help around the house. I think you should set the table now,” citing one of my (few) chores growing up. She said, “That’s boring!” Stifling a lecture on how housework can be quite boring but we all have to pull our weight (methinks it’s time to play her Free to Be . . . You and Me again), I asked what other chores she’d like to do. For example, I said, I scrub the toilets . . . She jumped up and said, with an eagerness not usually associated with the phrase, “Scrub the toilets!” Okay, I said–next time I clean the bathroom, you can scrub the toilet.
Yesterday she brought it up all on her own. “Mama, let’s clean the bathroom.” So I showed her how to squirt in the soap and scrub and wipe the toilet and–the highlight for her–mop the floor. I was sponge-rinser, mirror-cleaner, sink-cleaner, and, because Mookie got nervous when Joy said “Tell Mookie not to get the scouring powder in her mouth–it’s poisonous,” chief tub-scrubber. We could not convince her that the most fun, as well as productive, way to scrub a tub is to take off all your clothes, get right into the tub on hands and knees, and combine rinsing the tub with taking a shower, but she did get into the tub and have fun rinsing it. For this task, she insisted on using a small squirt bottle that has been a tub toy ever since we stopped needing it as a diaper-changing accessory. (A nice thing about cloth diapers: we kept that bottle on the changing table and squirted it onto a corner of a diaper in lieu of a wipe.) I said it would be kind of slow, but she said “It’s how I do it, and it’s more fun.”
Fun! Take that, Sheldon Harnick, who said in that Free to Be . . . poem, “Housework is just no fun.” He also said, “Nobody smiles doing housework but those ladies you see on TV,” but Mookie and I were smiling last night. The bathroom looks good, too. I will spare you from looking at a photo to prove it. Instead, here’s that poem.