Friday, January 28, 2011

Why Bother with Good Citizenship?

While growing up in the 80’s, our schools stressed good citizenship. If you came to school on time, didn’t miss too many days, and behaved well in class you received a citizenship award. Not to toot my own horn, but if my memory serves, I always received this award. I count this award as one of the few good things the public school system did. It emphasized what it meant to be a good citizen of this country.

As my life has gone on, I have maintained, I believe, that good citizenship status. Except for a short time in my 20’s, (hem,hem), I do my best to be on-time and present for all commitments (those of you who know me, be kind). I have a sense of duty, honor, commitment, and a deep respect for the law. I am not a perfect person by any means, but I can say I have never been convicted or accused of a crime, nor committed any to my knowledge (again, leaving out that time in my 20s).

However, even with this good citizenship status I am being treated like society has reason to suspect me of criminal behavior or at least not good citizenship.

Three times this weekend people have assumed that I, an upstanding citizen of this community, have the potential and probability to commit a crime, be rude to fellow movie-goers, and disrespect an establishment I patronize frequently.

First, we went to see Harry Potter this weekend. We took the whole family to see it. (I don’t want to hear anything about the PG-13 rating. We have been following Harry from the beginning and aren’t stopping now.) We waited in a disorganized line at the local theater, Corydon Cinemas. As we entered I was asked to open my bag so they could check to see if I had a video camera. Now, I don’t look the type to break copyright laws. I am a mom with 3 kids and husband in tow. How many moms do you know who can handle a camera while taking care of 3 kids and get a good enough picture to sell to anyone? Only because I choose to carry a purse was I presumed guilty before proven innocent.

Second, we were some of the first to enter the theater so we found pretty good seats. Against my better nature, we sat in the middle of a row. I figured the kids would have to potty a million times and they did. Right off the bat J, our son, had to go. P took him to the bathroom and decided to grab us some very expensive slushies. While he was gone the usher came around and asked everyone to move and leave no empty seats between them. I told my daughter who had an empty seat on either side of her to stay where she was. Later the usher came up to me personally and told me we would have to move together. I said, “Oh, well these are seats for my husband and son and they will be right back.” He said, “Ma’am, you can’t save seats.” I said in an irritated voice, “They were just here and my son needed to go to the bathroom.” Then something snapped inside. I said, “I am NOT moving. You get your manager in here and I will tell him the same thing.” The kid just said, “Yes Ma’am,” and high-tailed it away from me.

Now, let me explain. Usually I have so much more tolerance for kids like this usher, who obviously are new to the work force. They know very little about good customer service and they just follow the company’s policies without much thought. Today, however, I was pretty hot over the whole airline search and scan issue. I am pretty tired of being pushed around so that I can pay people to provide me with services which I certainly can get by without, but choose to spend our hard earned money at, not to mention the violation of individual rights, which I will address shortly.

So, to put it mildly, I have a short fuse about this issue.

Finally, today, Sunday, we decided to go out to eat for lunch. We went to Pizza King, where they have TVs in the booths and a train that delivers drinks. We love that place. The pizza isn’t very good, but I usually will get a Stromboli and the kids and dad get a pizza. It all works out. Today though, because we had 8 people in our party we were going to have to sit in the regular dining room and forego the TV and the train. When we entered, I told the hostess that we had 8 and she said she could seat us in the dining room. I said, “Actually, we would like to have 2 booths—one for us, and one for the kids.”

“We aren’t allowed to do that,” she said. I asked why. “Because, first, we don’t have two booths together right now.”

I said, “Well, putting that aside for a moment, because we might be willing to wait, what are the other reasons?”

She said, “We don’t allow the kids to sit separate from the parents and because it would mean two different servers.”

I just said ok, we will go somewhere else. Our friends’ mouths dropped open. “Why don’t we just eat in this room?”

“Because,” I said, “I don’t come here for the food; we come here for the TVs and the train, the pizza isn’t that good.”

Also, what I didn’t get to tell him—that I will tell you—I am sick to death of people assuming I am not going to be a good citizen because of other people’s bad behavior. This establishment is so cowardly, that it won’t ask parents to control their children or get out. Instead, I am inconvenienced to eat their terrible pizza and miss out on the atmosphere just because I have children and more than 5 people in the party. Well then, FINE. You won’t get my money.

I said right in front of the hostess that we should go down the street to the other Italian restaurant, The Spaghetti Shop, and we did. It was great food and there was more than one family in that establishment who sat their children at different tables—the proverbial kid’s table. The kids were ALL well-behaved and we had a great time.

Might I also add that we have the greatest friends in the world to put up with me.

Back to the topic of individual rights: why, I ask, should I bother with being a good citizen if I am going to be assumed to be a bad one? Isn’t this a violation of my individual rights? Am I not to be presumed innocent until proven guilty?

In this country, we spend a lot of time being worried about group rights. If we found that a group of people were being asked to open their bags and others weren’t, would we not scream about discrimination? Why should I open my bag? Why is it the business’ right to assume I am going to break the law just because I have a bag? That is absolutely ridiculous!

Why should a business assume that because our party has 4 kids in tow that they will misbehave without us sitting right on top of them? I have seen more than a few parents who allow their children to misbehave even when they are sitting right next to them! Sometimes the parents misbehave as well!

Why should I give up a seat for my husband and my child because other people gripe about not sitting together because they didn’t get to the movie theater in time? It isn’t like I am some teenager who is saving a whole row of seats and won’t let a lady with a baby sit down! That has happened to me personally, by the way.

And then there is the airline search and scan issue—why is it that I, an upstanding citizen (I know, I have said that already), should have to submit to either being seen nude or sexually assaulted because I am 3rd in line? Words are coming to mind here that I will not type out. I will replace them with this:


That is the point I am now at. It does sound radical doesn’t it? More and more, I am starting to relate to Patrick Henry. I am inspired by this phrase. There is a Tea Party meeting with my name on it. I am so sick of politicians, liberal activists, and public brainwashed lemmings who want to push me around, take my money, and force me to believe what they believe.


Who do they think they are? Do they think that their products and services are so great that I won’t walk away? They are right about many people. Many people will open their purse, get up and move, eat nasty pizza, and allow someone to grope them just to keep the status quo. Not me.


Why should I have to be violated to prove I am not a terrorist? The many are now more important than the few, or the one. I am reminded of Star Trek. “How many does it take, Admiral, before it becomes wrong?” Picard asks Vice-Admiral Dougherty (my husband helped me out with this part). How many people have to be violated until we stand up and say:


This is my battle cry. I am not going to support the status quo. If you don’t treat my family and me with respect you will not receive my business or my vote. If you try to push me around, I will push back. If you want to see in my bag you better be willing to give me a cash refund, not a gift certificate if you don’t make me aware before I buy my tickets. If you aren’t willing to allow me to wait for the seats I want and trust that I won’t allow my children to misbehave you will lose my business. If you think you are going to scan me or frisk me because I am 3rd in line I will not fly the “friendly skies.” And, when it comes to time to vote I will throw everything I have in support of the politicians who share my battle cry!


I am a good citizen and I will remain as such. I will not allow the establishments I frequent or the politicians I vote for to play to the lowest common denominator any more. If you want my business you are going to have to show me that you respect my individual rights—my right to live free or die…or at least go somewhere else.

Thank you Patrick Henry for reminding us of the importance of liberty at all levels. Yes, there are people in the world who have no freedom. Who am I to grip about a minor infraction like opening my purse or being searched? I will tell you. I am the posterity that our forefathers so often spoke of. People have died for this great amount of liberty I enjoy and I will not turn my back on even one small infraction because small infractions add up. Inch by inch we give a little bit of our liberty away. We are frogs in the warming water. One day we will wake up and find we are in a pot of boiling water with no way out.

A Cleaning Calendar to Keep Your House Clean and to Reduce Your Meanness

Recently, I started receiving daily cleaning tasks through email from Fly Lady.  Each week she focuses on a different area in the house: kitchen, master bed and bath, living/dining room, etc.   During the week she gives different tasks that can be completed within 15 minute increments.  For instance, this week the emails have focused on the master bedroom and today’s chore is to clear off the top of the dresser of anything you have been intending to put away. 
Some may have a hard time believing that there are people in the world that need an email reminding them of doing these kinds of tasks.  I wish I could say I was one of those who just don’t understand, but unfortunately, I so understand and have loved getting these email reminders.  On days I just don’t want to clean (like every day) I receive a very uplifting email full of testimonials and tips.  There is a short and easy task that I can complete quickly and easily.  These little tasks add up over time, like change in a jar.  In no time I started to see the impact.  My closets and cabinets are a little more organized and I want to keep them that way. 
Fly Lady just introduced a new web based calendar that goes another step in keeping you on task.  I took a look, but the last thing I need is another calendar or account.  However, I really like the idea.  I have heard of scheduling cleaning on a calendar before.  I actually took a stab at it when I got “gung hoe” about doing a homemaking journal.  I spent a lot of time creating very elaborate schedules for daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, and yearly cleaning and maintenance.  I used it precisely once and discovered that the next to last thing I need around here is more paper.   
I borrowed Fly Lady’s idea of using a calendar and created one in my Outlook calendar.  I have been faithfully using my Outlook calendar now for a few months so I feel like the habit of using it has been set.  I created a separate calendar from our normal activity calendar just for cleaning and journaling.  I will get to the journal in another post.

Each week is labeled A – D.  Each day I placed a reoccurring schedule item for each different area of the house, except for Sunday.
§  Monday – Kitchen
§  Tuesday – Living and Laundry Rooms
§  Wednesday – School and Dining Rooms
§  Thursday – Bedrooms and Playroom
§  Friday – Bathrooms
§  Saturday – Garage and Grounds
§  Sunday – Day of Rest
Within the item there is a list of things that need to be done for each week.  As an example, the item for today, Friday, is Bathrooms and looks like this:
§  Scrub toilet
§  Disinfect/scrub sink/counter/tub
§  Sweep and mop floor
§  Change litter
Week A
§  Organize storage areas (cabinets, closets)
Week B
§  Wipe  Outside of Cabinets
§  Dust Decorations and Furniture
Week C
§  Walls, Windows, Doors
§  Ceiling and Floor
Week D
§  Clean Drains
§  Wash Curtains
You can see that I have ongoing weekly tasks in this room, but I also have tasks that only need to be done once a month if needed.  I only perform each task for 15 minutes.  If I feel I want to do more, I reset the timer and hit it again.  I don’t overwhelm myself with a marathon cleaning session.  I just stick to short cleaning bursts.
This is just a trial run on then schedule.  I know it isn’t perfect.  I may find that the shower curtain, for instance, needs to be washed weekly with the towels.  It is a cloth curtain, not a plastic liner.  I can adjust as needed.
It is also very flexible.  Just this week I had to clean the living room on Tuesday even though the schedule said I clean that I should clean that room on Wednesday.  It just needed to be done.  The kids had trashed it on a game night and had left popcorn all over the floor (note to self: teach kids to be more respectful of the things in this home).  I didn’t need to consult any schedule about what needed to be done.  After I was done I came up and switched the living room and school and dining rooms items.  Flip flop, and I had adjusted the schedule.  I guess I could have squeezed it all into the same day, but I didn’t want to.
A big part of Fly Lady’s philosophy is not to get overwhelmed.  You don’t have to get it all done in one day and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  I love this woman.  How smart is that?  She understands women very well.  We do have a tendency to try to be perfectionists.  We know that our home is being judged.  Hey, don’t’ deny it.  You know it is true.  I know my home is a reflection of me just second after the behavior of my children.  There is a difference between knowing that and allowing your life to be turned into chaos because you are afraid of what the judges will say. 
God has made it clear to us that he knows we are not perfect and he loves us anyway.  If God knows I am not perfect and he is the only one I should try to please, why should I hide that I didn’t get all three bathrooms cleaned before I had guests over?  Why should I stress and turn into some kind of crazy woman when I know guest are coming and I have a mountain of laundry waste high? Wouldn’t I be bearing false witness to my friends about myself by trying to hide my imperfections? I am not saying let them use a dirty bathroom.  Lock off one of the bathrooms, toss all the dirty laundry into the laundry room and close the door, and enjoy your company.  We aren’t getting into heaven based on the cleanliness of our homes.
In our family we have a little joke about the attitude of our women while we are cleaning.  We call it “cleaning mean”.  Very literally, when we clean we get mean.  With every swipe of a cloth or swish of a broom we get more frustrated that the progress we made was ruined since the last time we cleaned.  We resent those who messed it all up.  We resent that we have to keep doing the same task over and over because the same people do not appreciate, respect, or are considerate of what we do. 
I had to ask myself why is it such a big deal?  Would I prefer a career outside the home where I get paid for my job and feel more respected and appreciated?  The honest answer is no; not to mention, I spent enough time in the “real world” to figure out that they don’t respect you either. Together, my husband and I decided that it was more important that I stay home so that our children didn’t have to be put in daycare and the decision evolved to include homeschooling.  In fact, I begged and prayed for the opportunity to stay home and serve my family.  I have to remind myself of this when I feel I have the right to feel resentment over yet another pile of dirty clothes?  I chose this life. I own it.  I want it.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am not saying that I don’t have the right to set the people in this house straight about their bad behavior.  I am the keeper of the home and even my husband understands that when it comes to the care of the home I am the boss.  He put me in charge and chose to submit to me in this area, so even he has to accept my correction from time to time (the time he wiped his hands on his Grandmother’s lace table cloth comes to mind here). I may wash the doormats, but I am not one.  Sometimes children and husbands just need a small reminder in this area, but not a temper tantrum. 
I can see the comments coming, so just know we don’t all run our marriages and our homes the same way, and that is an example of what makes this the greatest country on God’s Earth.
If you aren’t using a calendar for cleaning already try this out for one week.  Each day write down one task that you can complete in 15 minutes.  Or, better yet, subscribe to Fly Lady’s weekly emails so that you don’t even have to come up with the chore.  At the end of the week, ask yourself if you feel you have had a productive week.  I am betting you will get so addicted to those emails you will wish that she gave you a task for Sunday. As much as you may want a task just relax on Sunday and trust that God knew what he was doing by taking a day off.
Also, don’t forget to ask yourself if your meanness level decreased during the week?  Do you feel like it was worth it?  Was there a tiny bit less stress in your day?  It adds up.
One last thing: recruite your kids to do this with you. Let them participate and share the tasks that Fly Lady sends you.  Don’t overwhelm them.  Just like you, they have fragile spirits.  For instance, today’s task is to clean off the master bedroom dresser.  Just translate that into their dressers as well.  Tell them you are setting the timer for 15 minutes and they are to clear as much stuff off the top of the dresser as possible by putting things away in their proper place.  If they don’t get it all put away that is ok.  The reward comes regardless of a finished or perfect job.  Sit down and have a snack together afterwards or take them to the park as a reward.  If nothing else, just tell them thank you for doing this with you.  You will be amazed at how far a thank you will take you. 
Happy Cleaning!