Dumpster Diving: A Lesson in Parenting

I live in a decently sized apartment but with three kids (one teenager, one tween and one toddler) it never seems to be enough. It’s as if the walls close in a little more with each child that enters the house. I’m picturing the scene from Star Wars: A New Hope, where the main characters are trapped in a garbage compactor. I think my house probably smells like that too (see earlier post – Stinky, smelly, gross boys!).

I have three bedrooms and over the past two years have reconfigured them at least three times. I recently decided that I do not need a bedroom for myself. I’m sure some of you are cringing but I assure you this was an easy decision for three reasons:

  1. No time for sex. I don’t even have time to pee before some kid is knocking on the door.
  2. No privacy for sex. See above.
  3. No desire for sex. Yep, see above.

Since, I clearly don’t need privacy, I decided to give up my bedroom to create a playroom. This meant I had to move all the furniture (one bunk bed, one loft bed, two dressers, two cartoonishly large rocking chairs… you get the picture), rearrange all the closets, and reorganize everything. And still manage to cook, clean, and do all the other crap that has to be done every fricking weekend!

I had this image in my mind that my boys would truly want to help in this extravaganza. That they would in fact be so excited to help that we would knock out this project in no time and then sit to watch a movie together on the couch, after contemplating the origins of the universe and creating an invention for Shark Tank… Yeah. Not so much. Clearly, I was on drugs when I thought that up.

What I got was two and a half hell filled days of arguing that went something like this:

Child #1: “Can you take the garbage out?” he asks snottily.

Child #2: “I took it out last time. It’s your turn to take it out” answers with an eye roll.

#1: “Yeah, but I had to put all the bags in because you forgot” add a foot stomp and a thrown shirt.

#2: “Well, I’m putting the toys away right now” flings toys across room.

#1: “Well, I’m folding laundry right now” throws laundry at brother.

This continued until the boys, the laundry, the toys, and the garbage were all tangled up together in a knock down, drag out fight in the middle of the living room. Again, the garbage compactor scene comes to mind. I finally kicked them both out, grabbed three large garbage bags, and did a full arm sweep of each shelf and drawer in their room until the bags were full and their rooms were empty. Then I marched out to the dumpster like some deranged Santa Claus, as they stood by weeping, and threw their things away.

When I came back I explained to them how disappointed I was that I had not heard a single thank you all weekend. Their lack of appreciation for other’s efforts and for their own things was simply unacceptable. They went to bed, crying over their losses. I pondered the lesson I was trying to teach.

Then I realized the value of what I had thrown away and broke out in a cold sweat and heart palpitations so fierce I thought I was having a heart attack. So, at about 11:00pm, for the second time that night, I went out to the dumpster, flashlight in hand, praying nobody would see me, and spent 20 minutes digging those three damn garbage bags out.

Parenting can really stink sometimes… literally.