Every week day at 3:00 I call home to talk to my kids who are just getting home from school about then. The conversations are brief; how was school, any homework, let the dog out. But sometimes, I relay a very simple request. On Thursday, I asked for the following three things:
1. Take four chicken breasts out of the freezer in the garage for dinner and put them in a container of water in the sink. (Not: Go to the local farm, track down a couple of chickens, slaughter them, butcher them, and prepare chicken cacciatore.)
2. Bring in the garbage cans. (Not: Bring in the garbage cans at our old house thirty miles away. I mean the ones at the end of the driveway that you walked around on your way in the house.)
3. Put your clothes away. (Not: Take your dirty clothes down to the creek, wash them against a rock, dry them on a clothesline, iron them and put them away in order of color.)
If you belly crawled to complete these tasks, it would take five minutes tops – seven if you actually put the clothes in drawers instead of on the floor.
Do I have to tell you how many were done when I got home? I didn’t think so.
When I inquired about this when I got home, and by inquired I mean I yelled, “Dammit! Why didn’t you at least get out the chicken?” The response was, “Sorry dad, I forgot!” What my son meant to say was, “Dad, shut up you ass. And stop yelling, I am playing xBox.”
But he was lying – he didn’t forget. To forget implies that you knew something, and it slipped your mind. Like, “I knew I was supposed to get milk on the way home, but I forgot.” You can’t forget if you never knew it in the first place. (A derivative of this strategy is employed in DC all the time.)
You can only be pissed off about frozen chicken for so long, because as a parent you just make it work. Today’s garbage cans is tomorrows running out at 8:00 at night to get a tee shirt for a school project that is due the next day even though they knew about it for a week and when you are ask him in the car why he didn’t tell you earlier he says, “Dad, sometimes I just shut things off.” Wonderful.