Day 35: Today give little tasks to people around you.

“People around me” – ah, there’s the rub.

Today was day four of being “snowed in” here in north Texas – and, actually, we got about five more inches during the day, so staying home felt at least a little justified. My semester has been somewhat disrupted, but that’s beside the point —

The point being that the people around me today were my wife and my kids. I didn’t think Lorna would be particularly keen to let me boss her around, and Elanor was working on her spelling, so that left Jack.

Not every task was suitable for a three-year-old, of course, nor was every task feasible on a day nobody left the house. Also, there were a few that he does without being asked: “don’t leave me alone” and “tell me what to do” comprising the top of the list. (“Do what I say” topped the list of things he never does.)

There were, though, a few that actually worked.

Lorna was on the phone in another room when I set about getting Jack to do things for me, so “spy on my spouse for me” was the first thing I tried. “Jack,” I said, “sneak in to the schoolroom and find out who mommy’s talking to.” And he did, though not very covertly – it was Lorna’s mom, and Jack ended up talking to her for several minutes before reporting back.

The second thing we tried was “taste my food for poison.” Lorna made granola today, and I wanted to make sure it was edible before I started eating it – so I brought some to Jack. “Here, eat this,” I said. He did, because he’s more trusting than he ought to be. “It’s not poison?,” I asked. “You’re not throwing up or dying or anything?” No, he wasn’t – and he ate all the granola, too, so that I had to go get more.

“Hug me” was an easy one. “Tell me if my breath stinks” was easy, as well, and Elanor joined in – but, because I’d had so much coffee (yeah, I’m blaming it on the coffee), the answer was not good. Jack can’t whistle, so “whistle my favorite tune” had to be modified – we sang one of the songs he sings at school: the “Open, Shut Them” song.

“Wake me up if I snore” didn’t go so well; I pretended to be asleep, tried to fake some snores, but he only woke me up so that I would put on a movie for him – and when I refused, he was done doing the stupid things I was asking him to do. I got one more out of Ella, though: she carried my Book back to my desk. It wasn’t “all day,” exactly, but since the Book doesn’t usually leave my bedside table, it was good enough.

It was nice having my kids do what I asked without complaining, for a change, but I’m not stupid enough to expect it to last. Queen Victoria probably isn’t amused – I bet her kids always did as they were told.


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