Social Justice

I live in a home that is all about justice. Maybe it’s because we’re lawyers or maybe it’s just in our children’s DNA, but nothing gets done in our house that doesn’t involve negotiation, reward or retribution.

Take for instance – dinner.

“Neill, pass me the fork,” says our middle child.

“I will but first you have to hand me the ketchup.”

“No, I’m not handing you anything because yesterday Mama told us to put up the groceries, I put them all up and you did nothing. Now pass me the fork or I’m going to hurt you.”

“Try it and Mama will take your phone away.”

“No she won’t,” she says, as she begins eating her peas with a knife, while clutching the ketchup in a death grip.

The negotiations can continue for what seems like an eternity until at some point I pass the fork and Brody passes the ketchup. I’m sure that’s not the right parental response but somedays we just want to eat our pork chops in peace.

And so it goes…be it putting up the laundry, feeding the dog, cleaning the garage, nothing gets done until negotiations are complete.

And while I appreciate hearty debate and even a bit of obvious posturing, at some point the fact that there are no clean towels in my linen closet is just more than I can take!

On January 1, I decided it was only fair to switch out the chore list. Laundry, the most dreaded of chores, had been the middle child’s to-do. Nothing makes my little perfectionist more crazy than things that are not meticulously folded and in their place. Yet, with five in the household it was a thankless, never ending job.

So at the beginning of the year, I gave that chore to our oldest who had previously been on kitchen duty. Our oldest is our dreamer. Life, to her, isn’t about law and order but instead is about taking time to smell the roses and living each day to the fullest. Which basically boils down to the fact that for almost 7 weeks nothing has been getting washed, folded or put away. Living life to the fullest in no way, shape or form includes doing laundry. A fact I do appreciate and the reason…I make my kids do the laundry.

But after almost two months of drying off with hand towels and listening to the never ending arguments concerning the state of the laundry, I informed our household that we were reverting back to the 2013 chore list.

“Zoe, you are back on laundry duty.”

“That’s not fair!” she screamed out, as our oldest danced around the room.

“She did a horrible job and now I have to do it for her!”

And while I admit my actions are completely unjust, it’s a fact, I’ve come to live with each and every morning as I reach into that linen closet and find a clean, folded towel.

As one of the great scholars of this century said “Parent’s are not interested in justice. They are interested in quiet.” Bill Cosby

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