Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Mischief Managed

Emma has officially entered her typical teenage years.  She's now spending most of her free time with friends, and has started asking for money between allowances. I knew it was coming.  I just didn't expect it to be so sudden.  And honestly...I'm happy for her.  She's always been a bit of a homebody.  This will be good for her. 

Never a stickler for "tidy" she's now tipped past untidy into teen angst "Full slob".  Her language skills, once quite adequate, have dipped into a mode of interpretation so literal that unless I spell each thing out for her in exhaustive detail only the exact one thing I ask her to do gets done.   "Put your clothes away then come back down" is useless at this stage.  It must be, "Put the clean clothes from your basket into their respective drawers, unless they go on hangers, then put them on hangers and hang the hangers in your closet.  Put the dirty clothes wherever they currently are into the hamper.  If the dirty clothes are only dirty because you tried them on and decided against wearing them, then they are not dirty clothes and must be put away as if they are clean clothes from the basket."

This language does not survive week to week.  What is understood as THIS week's command to put away clothes in exhaustive detail is not retained for any OTHER week following.

All of her chores require similar specificity. 

And Emma doesn't have many of them, but one of the few that she has is to feed/water Dobby our cat.  The process started out like this...Emma feed your cat.

Actual additional instructions now required:
Emma, feed your cat
  • dry AND wet food
  • and turn off the light when you're done
  • wash last night's wet food bowl
  • put the lid back on the dry food when you're done
  • refill his water dish
So, like other chores, as I notice something new that isn't being done that SEEMS like common sense to me, but was not mentioned in her scope of work, it gets added to the schpiel.

I was really struggling to get her to remember to put the lid back on the dry food container though.  I didn't want Dobby to get into it and overeat (cleaned up some cat vomit just this morning, by the way).  So I kept having to harp on her and harp on her from the other room, "Em, you need to put the lid back on the catfood container."

And she keeps impatiently hollering back to me, "Yes, dad, I know!"

This weekend I woke early and came downstairs and, once again, the lid was sitting next to the dry food.  "Dammit, Emma," I muttered under my breath, and resealed the container.

Emma was still in bed, and I busied myself with other things...making coffee, cleaning dishes, etc, until about twenty minutes later I heard a noise from the dining room.  I walked in to see Dobby standing on his hind legs, the container lid on the floor, his nose buried in the cat food.  The little fucker learned how to open the container himself!

I knew he wouldn't sit still for me to pet-shame him with a sign, so I just parent-shamed myself instead.


  1. I believe cats actually have opposable thumbs, and have other stealthy skills we can only imagine. Cats - ancient aliens living among us.

  2. Oh dear! We had a cat and she was a sneaky thing that caused chaos everywhere. Sure don't miss dealing with it.

    Never a dull moment!

  3. Ah - "Detailed Programmatic Specificity".

    And making pictures of the task.

    Yes, the instructions and tasks are getting more complex once you think of them.

    I provide a shame-free place for any feline who wants it.

  4. Yeah, cats. But I'm relieved to hear that my young teen isn't the only one who has become dumb. I've never heard anyone else talk about the literal interpretations that are taken. I do the same multi-step directions and the laundry is still on the floor. I may have to just shut the door.

  5. Omfg dobby really is an asshole!!!!