“I will vacumn for food”

My eldest daughter holds two esteemed positions. Firstly she is officially the laziest child in the world, a tiring enough job apparently without having the additional burden of ensuring that “the UK’s second messiest bedroom”* has a million toys dumped all over the floor.

Still she soldiers on, sustained only by two hourly feeds and the odd inter-meal snack. As with all parents, we’ve run the full gamut of techniques to extract the tiniest bit of help from our offspring. Guilt (doesn’t work, they don’t have any), emotional blackmail (pointless, they just flip it back doubled), and – predictably – cash incentives.

Even fiscal stimulation has its’ limits. Pocket money is halved if dishwasher’s aren’t emptied and pets go unfed. Yet this sanction is met with a thought process far beyond their tender years which goes something like “50p for doing bugger all, a quid for getting off my arse. 50p it is then”.

So withVerbal, I’ve decided the route to her head is through her stomach. Apparently we’re not allowed to introduce WorkHouse rules without risking embarrassing visits from social services, so instead I offered up the delight of a chocolate moose** in return for a quick mow of the ground floor with the hoover.

This daily task is more than necessary when your dog moults all year round. Amazing the mutt isn’t bald considering the mohair shirt our oak floor wears after he’s rubbed himself down with a handy floorboard.

She wasn’t keen. First tactic was a straight no, and I countered with a fulsome description of the illicit delights of the fridge’s top shelf. She moved onto negotiation and offered some desultory sweeping, for which I offered not chocolate but fruit. Then – because this is a girl who can look at a donkey and thinks it lacks the ability to be properly stubborn – she sulked and went without.

Eventually she grumped outside and helped plant a million bulbs that will either create a riot of colour come spring, or – and with our horticultural history I’m going with this – everything will die, and the weeds will create a replica Day of the Triffids set. I still withheld the chocolate, because – when all is said and done – I intend to wield the small amount of power I still hold with extreme cruelty.

I see us at a crossroads here. Two options present; firstly accept that her teenage years are only just over two years away and we might was well get use to it, or make up a sign “I WILL WORK FOR FOOD” and break out the starvation diet.

Being a caring, sharing parent, in touch with a generation of kids who were never ritually beaten for such transgressions as speaking out of turn, I’m thinking she’d look good with a sign 🙂

* The holder and undisputed title holder being her sister.

** Not the whole animal, she’s only 10.

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