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14 Things My Kid Does When I Ask Her to Clean Up

Now that my older daughter's four, she's big enough to do chores and take responsibility for her own messes—or so I thought. Let's just say my attempts to get her to clean up after herself have not been so successful. Even when I sing that catchy little song, "Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere/Clean up, clean up, everybody do their share"—I'm the only one doing my share. My share is 100%.

Here's what my kid does when she doesn't want to clean up, which is always:

1. Negotiates: "Can I keep playing and then I'll clean up after dinner?" No. Unless I'm just too tired to argue and then yes.

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2. Stalls: "Wait, I just have to finish building these five different towers." Sometimes I fall for this, because, you know, creative expression.

3. Turns the tables: "It's your mess, you clean it up." This is patently false as well as disrespectful, but you have to admire the gumption.

4. Ignores me completely. Either I am mute or she is deaf. Or perhaps I've started speaking in tongues.

5. Distracts from the issue: "Mom, I'm really hungry." No way. Then I'll have a snack to clean up too.

6. Wanders away. Now you see her... now she's in her room making a brand new giant mess.

7. Goes on the defensive: "Mommy, you always interrupt me when I'm playing." That's true, because she never stops playing.

8. Goes on the offensive: "You're not my friend anymore!!!" Oh well.

9. Outright refuses: "Noooooooo." And she's two years old again.

10. Offers empty promises: "I'm going to do such a good job cleaning up as soon as I'm done playing." Uh huh. Screw me once...

11. Shoots for the moon: "If I clean up, can I have a popsicle and watch Sleeping Beauty?" Absolutely! (I never have to make good, since she will get distracted while cleaning and be playing again in two minutes.)

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12. Butters me up: "Mommy, you're so pretty." I'd be even prettier in a clean house.

13. Acts cute: "Look at me, I'm painting a picture of our whole family!" Is that big splotch of red paint spilling onto my white chair supposed to represent me, having a heart attack?

14. Makes a much bigger mess. Would this have happened if I'd just kept my mouth shut?

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