Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cleaner living through mom's cooking

Published August 16, 2009
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

A few years ago, I wrote a column about a harrowing, three day standoff between my daughters and me over a messy bedroom. In said column, I stated there was no reward my daughters wanted more than not cleaning their room, and there was no consequence they feared more than cleaning their room. I thought this because I had tried everything I could think of.

Today? Allow me a moment of evil laughter: Muahahahahahahahahaha! (The better to muffle the sound of my hand repeatedly slapping my forehead.) Ladies and gentlemen, I have found it. I have discovered the secret. Incentive, thy name is Taco.

Well, it happened to be Taco a few months ago. Growing weary of the fight over the orderliness of the girls’ bedroom and annoyed with a seven year old who was conscientiously objecting to anything other than coloring, I told her she could pull her weight or find somewhere else to live. She shrugged her shoulders and went outside, followed by her nine year old sister who defected in sisterly solidarity with a very passionate shout of, “She’s just a kid! She can’t take care of herself!” They sat on the front steps of the house for about 15 minutes, discussing orphanages.

And then they smelled the tacos.

I’ve been a mother for nearly 13 years, and I’ve been a good cook for even longer. There’s nothing I love more than to hear my children scurrying to each other with excited cries of, “Mom’s making ________!” Whether I’m frying up tortilla chips or rolling out donuts or baking a batch of my hearty wheat bread, my family is putty in my hands when they smell my cooking.

I think I’ve avoided capitalizing on this love relationship out of some sense of honor, not wanting to sully my culinary creations with the sour taste of exploitation. I…was a moron.

With nary a scruple, I put this newfound knowledge to the test the other day, when a bedroom cleanup that should have taken an hour stretched into six, my girls alternately whining and moving messes around the room. I smiled an evil smile as I piled fruit and ice into my blender and heard my girls erupt into desperate shouting. “Smoothies! HURRY!” The smell of taco meat spurred them into even faster action. That room was finished in ten minutes.

I’ll admit it helps to have a 12 year old who cleans his room in 5 minutes flat in order to avoid missing an undue amount of Playstation time. He prances to their bedroom door and singsongs, “Dinner’s ready. If you don’t get out here soon, I get to eat yours.” At some point in the near future, he’ll probably sustain a concussion from the various objects that are thrown at his head. At this point, it’s a job he likes to do, and it gets them moving, so I’m willing to take the chance.

I’m happy to say the tacos and smoothies tasted as delicious as always, maybe even more so. I’ve now stopped slapping my head long enough to make a list of my most beloved recipes and pair those with my kids’ most dreaded chores.

On the menu today? Vacuuming, laundry, and yard work with a side of cinnamon rolls.