Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
There's union talk in the hallways. I hear them, in the bathroom, whispering about representation and responsibility (before they leave without flushing). They're utilizing terms like due process and fairness (while refusing to take their turn sitting in the back seat of the minivan). They believe they are entitled to grievance procedures, arbitration and safe working conditions (although the floor is obstructed with their own dirty laundry).
They want equality and are threatening to vote on the matter. Who do they think they are?
You can understand my apprehension, not to mention all-out terror. As a mother I can't allow it. If my kids unionize, they will gain the right to provide input and influence regarding regular household issues. How crazy is that?
They want to make their own rules, but not their beds, and that's only the beginning of the debacle. From beds we'll move to a myriad of demands and regulation elimination. (My throat is tight here. I am trying to keep my lunch down.)
If they are allowed to congregate, converse and disseminate information, they will obliterate mealtimes. Cheetos will replace carrots at the dinner table. Ice cream will be a breakfast staple. Broccoli will be but a dim memory. Possession of asparagus will become a misdemeanor.
Grown-ups will not be allowed access to the TV remote. The living room will transform into a floor hockey arena; the sunroom set aside for wrestling. Toilet flushing will be even less optional than it is now.
It is unfortunate, this union mentality. They are preparing to undo years of my own personal organization and rule-abidance, all in the name of rights and entitlement. They are threatening a strike - on bedtimes, curfews, chores, science projects and reading requirements.
They have been trying to come together to hold a meeting. (I caught them yesterday huddled in the garage.) They cry out for collective bargaining in their sleep. During their waking hours, I dismiss them with a two-word directive, "Time out!" (I am still the boss, at least as far as I can tell.) If they are allowed the luxury of negotiation, my advantage as rule-wielding, bedtime-enforcing, carrot-pushing queen of the house ends.
Today they take activities to a new level of insubordination. They march on the front lawn, demanding overtime compensation for homework completed at home as this is not within the parameters of a regular school day. (Cry me a river.) They rally on the front steps threatening to stage a sit-in and work stoppage until their stipulations are met. (Little do they know it's almost time for supper.)
I send my husband to call them in to eat.
My mediator returns with a message. They want to know if I can go to the store to buy poster board so they can make signs to support their cause.
This makes me laugh.
I decide to make my own sign. On it, I print two words: "Mom Quits."
I walk out the front door waving my declaration in front of their faces and they stand on the steps with mouths agape. "Moms can't quit," they tell me.
"Neither can kids," I reply. "Now come in. Supper's ready and the carrots are getting cold."
Later we will explore the topic of math homework followed by toothbrushing and completion of bedtime routines at a regular hour. I survived another day as Mom Executive Officer. I can always think about quitting tomorrow.
Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page. E-mail her at
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