Category Archives: Uncategorized

Night Sadness

I typed the title of this post, and then I opened up the archives, thinking maybe I had already written on this topic. The first match was another post, with the very same title! …Oh, it’s the draft of this post.

I did mention it in a post called Day Sadness (written about nine years ago when I had an infant and two toddlers and two elementary school kids, hmm, I wonder if that had anything to do with anything, well it’s all a rich tapestry):

Last night I had Night Sadness (lying awake thinking of sad and oppressive things, and all the ways in which I have failed / am failing / will fail), and usually sleep cures that—-but this morning I woke up with Day Sadness. It feels like I do the same thing day in and day out, and like it’s never going to change, and like I’m never going to handle anything right, and like the world is a bad and stupid place. I know that’s not true, but what I know doesn’t have much to do with it.

And I mentioned it in a post called Accommodations, written about six years ago; William was about ten years old then, and I’d forgotten about this:

William gets Night Sadness: feeling in the evening or around bedtime that everything is too awful and sad and hopeless to be dealt with at all.

I think the second excerpt captures the feeling more accurately. The first excerpt’s “Lying awake thinking of every dumb thing I ever said/did” can be PART of Night Sadness, but it’s not the DEFINING part; the defining part is awful/sad/hopeless/despair/everything.

What separates Night Sadness from other moods is: (1) it happens near bedtime, and (2) the only cure is sleep, and (3) the cure works. It can be brought on by over-tiredness, or it can just happen when normal tiredness breaks down the usual coping mechanisms, but the ONLY WAY TO DEAL WITH IT is to go to sleep and wake up the next morning. There is no talking it out, there is no reasoning it out, there is no “have a hot bath and a glass of wine and write in a gratitude journal”-ing it out: just get to sleep. If necessary, using benadryl, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, hard liquor NOT IN COMBINATION WITH OTHER THINGS, etc.

ANYWAY. That post that mentions William having Night Sadness is very encouraging to me, because what I came here to write about is Henry having it. And William had it six years ago, when he was Henry’s age, and I didn’t even REMEMBER that. So that gives me hope for the Henry situation.

Henry has it somewhat more severely, however. A few times recently, he’s gotten such a bad case of Night Sadness, he’s actually thrown up. He gets more and more upset and anxious, and nothing seems to help, and then he throws up and feels better. This seems to me to be crossing the line between “I’m sorry, child, but you’ve inherited your mother’s Night Sadness genes; the jury is still out on whether you’ve got her unreliable ankles” and “Let’s call the pediatrician.” But I haven’t called the pediatrician. Because I am very, very, very, very, very, very, very reluctant to get any kid into the system of Mental Issues, and particularly when pre-existing conditions are such a current and applicable topic. But of course I don’t want to put something off that should be dealt with, or let him suffer with something he doesn’t have to suffer with. On the other hand, it’s not happening often. And William outgrew it.

For my own treatment, the essential piece is recognizing the particular mood as Night Sadness. This does not work with most mental issues (like when my therapist thought that if I REALIZED my anxieties were irrational, those anxieties would MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR!) (no, I ALREADY REALIZE they’re irrational, Genius, which is WHY I AM HERE), but it does help me somewhat with night sadness: I think “Nope. I recognize this. This is Night Sadness,” and I can get benadryl or a tranquilizer or a swift double shot of vodka on board and be asleep while still noping. So my natural inclination is to get Henry to be able to use a similar coping mechanism. I am worried that if I instead consult the doctor, Henry will get put on a daily medication that is not as safe as an occasional benadryl. I am worried there will be Referrals, and Diagnoses, and a suggestion that he See Someone once a week, when really what he needs is some occasional help getting to sleep for the next year(s) while he outgrows it as William has, or learns to handle it as I have. But so far, my method is not working on Henry. It is hard to decide how long to wait.


I had to tell a child for the millionth time that we do not yuck another person’s yum. We do not look at something someone else is eating, and express our opinion that their food is gross; we do not observe someone else’s passionate interest and then volunteer, unasked, the information that we think that interest is stupid and boring and a waste of time. Oh, you don’t like every single thing liked by every single other person? HOW INTERESTING, HOW UNIQUE, WELCOME TO THE HUMAN RACE. We can use empathy to consider how bad it would feel to have someone sneering at what WE like, and know that we should not sneer at what THEY like.

Later that same day, I was thinking about how tempting it is, at this stage of parenting, to idealize the earlier stages: I see someone out with a baby in a baby carseat, and I just want to tell her how LOVINGLY I remember it: the sweet little baby companion in the cart, cheeks within easy squeezing-reach! But wait: when I was in that stage, I rejoiced in the times I did NOT have to take the baby with me to the store. And I absolutely did not want to hear how I should cherish every moment. I wanted to hear how cute my baby was, YES. I wanted to be asked how old the baby was and what the baby’s name was, YES. But I did NOT enjoy being told again and again by what seemed like an endless procession of older ladies that I should be appreciating every moment, and that it all went by so fast, and that I would be sorry when it was over that I hadn’t appreciated it more. Because, as I also remember, that stage was filled with a weeping lack of sleep, and babies who cried unless they were held even when I had things to do that were incompatible with that, and blow-out diapers right after baths, and having to constantly assess the well-being of a child who COULD NOT TALK, and treasuring the two minutes I could be by myself in the bathroom, and having fantasies about getting sent to prison so I could be by myself, and so on.

I was NOT cherishing every moment, NOR SHOULD I HAVE if I wanted to continue being counted among the sane: some parts were just TERRIBLE, and we don’t have to pretend they weren’t, let alone feel guilty in advance for not ENJOYING them enough. Hearing someone else claim to have gone through this same stage and to have emerged thinking of it as the best time of her life made me feel like RUNNING SCREAMING INTO THE SEA. Oh, it’s all downhill from here, then? GOOD TO KNOW, BRB FLINGING MYSELF OFF CLIFF. Oh, I’m going to REGRET not CHERISHING the diaper that required me to mop up the baby as best I could with rough brown paper towels in a public bathroom, then wrap his soiled clothes as best I could in more paper towels so that I could get them home, then wrap the baby in a blankie and go back out into the store to buy him a new outfit on the spot so he wouldn’t have to go out into the sharp winter weather without clothes? In the future I will be looking back on this moment as belonging to THE BEST TIME OF MY LIFE? THANK YOU FOR THAT GIANT DOSE OF DESPAIR ABOUT MY SAD FUTURE, OLDER LADY.

(What’s funny is that one of my happy memories ACTUALLY IS the time Elizabeth threw up in the car when my mom and I were almost to Target. She mostly just got it on her clothes, so we stripped her down to her diaper, put her clothes into a plastic bag I kept in the car because car-barfing was not rare, cleaned her up with baby wipes kept in the car for the same reason, and then went into Target and I had the excuse of buying her the darling four-piece mix-and-match Carter’s pink elephant pajamas I’d really wanted to buy her. I went through the line with Elizabeth and the pajamas while my mom waited with the cart and the other kids, and I took her right into the bathroom and put one set on her, and then we continued shopping and she looked adorable, and I felt so RESOURCEFUL to have handled the whole situation, and so HAPPY to have those cute new pajamas.)

Anyway, thinking of both of those things on the same day made me realize one is the flip of the other: we shouldn’t yuck someone else’s yum—but also, we should try not to yum someone else’s yuck. If we know from personal experience that a particular stage of life is filled with loveliness but also with suckiness, we should avoid rhapsodizing about the loveliness in a way that makes the other person feel as if they can’t admit to any suckiness, or as if they alone are finding it sucky whereas WE found it wreathed in roses and angel-song. When someone else is going through an experience universally acknowledged to be rough (even if also glorious), we should avoid telling them it was the best time of our life, even if we now remember it that way, even if it turns out it actually was. It’s not going to sound like good news to the hearer.

Similarly, I saw someone posting on Facebook about something they were worried about, and someone else commented “I’d love to have that problem,” and then added a mention of her own problem, which was indeed worse, and yet the original person’s complaint was not about something anyone would “love to have.” It should go without saying that we do not tell someone else that their worry/problem/issue is actually a POSITIVE thing when compared to our own problems. We do not yum someone else’s yuck, or act as if we think they should be yumming it.

I remember what was my favorite thing to hear, as I was walking through a store with a fussing baby and fretful toddler. I would be fighting my way through a store, and someone would hold a door for me and I would thank her fervently, and she would say, “Oh, no problem—I remember those days!” Or if my child was being loud and unpleasant in a store, I loved to get a sympathetic look from another mom, combined with “Oh I’ve been there!” Do you know what those words told me? That I was one in a long line of women going through this same experience—and that other women had LIVED THROUGH IT. That one day, I would be able to hold the door for someone else, because my hands would be free. And that I would think, “Oh, how nice that my hands are free,” instead of thinking, “OH GOD, MY HANDS ARE FREE AND NOW I AM MISERABLE AND I REGRET NOT REVELING IN WHAT I ONCE THOUGHT WAS MISERY AND NOW PERCEIVE AS PURE JOY WHEN COMPARED TO THE FRESH HELL THAT IS MY LATER LIFE.”

Ceramics Class

Elizabeth went to a wheel-thrown pottery class this summer, and I was really impressed with how good a piece can look even with very little experience. When I went back to pick up her finished things, they gave me a pamphlet about fall classes, and I noticed that they had a ten-session wheel-thrown pottery class for adults.

I had an unusual surge of interest in that idea, quickly followed by all my usual reactions to a surge of interest: new/scary thing, what if I hate it, it seems indulgent, maybe I should wait and see, it’s kind of a long drive, what if I have scheduling conflicts, how can one justify frivolous things in this time of worldwide crises and sweeping injustice not to mention college costs, etc. But I sensed in myself a rare mood of ability to overcome, so I went and got my credit card before I could lose that surge of interest.

As I clicked through the various links to get to the sign-up, I psyched myself up: It’s good to try new things! New things are good for aging brains! Maybe you’ll love it, and if you don’t, it’s okay! It’s okay to do things like this! I felt almost dazed: I was ACTUALLY SIGNING UP FOR IT!!! And EARLY—not at the last minute! And with so little agonizing! I thought maybe I would even ask a friend to do it with me, but I sensed in that idea an excuse to postpone registration, so I continued on: I could sign up and THEN mention it to a friend.

And the class was full. No waiting list. I feel deflated. I was doing it, I was actually DOING it!—and then it was not available. I can do it next session, but that is not comforting: I suspect I will NOT do it next session. It’s so rare for interest to merge with the ability to take action.

I considered trying a different class. I could learn basket-weaving. But there was no surge of interest. I could learn drawing/sketching. But eh. Painting? A slight feeling of interest, followed by total loss of same.

[Edited to add:] Okay, I checked further, and there is a one-session class that makes just one bowl or mug. I signed up for that. If I like it, I can take the full course next session.

[Edited a second time to add:]
I also sent an email to the art-class place, asking if by any chance there was a waiting list even though there was no waiting list mentioned. And I got an email back saying actually there was one place left in the class, and if I wanted it I should call this number. I went back to the website and tried to register that way, because I did not want to call, but it still said the class was full. So I clenched my teeth and made the phone call, and now I am in the class. I am in the class! My cheeks feel hot and my eyes feel wide. I realize there are people who decide on and get into a doctorate program with less fuss and angst, but we are who we are, and now we are someone who is full of fuss and angst AND ALSO enrolled in a pottery class!

Books: My Name Is Lucy Barton, and Anything Is Possible

I have just finished the second of two books that have left me feeling mildly dumbstruck because they were so exactly what I like to read: My Name Is Lucy Barton and Anything Is Possible, both by Elizabeth Strout.

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I should not have been surprised, since I felt similarly about one of this author’s earlier books, Olive Kitteridge. (I know it’s been made into a movie. And there is probably no actress I trust more than Frances McDormand. But I haven’t seen it yet. Don’t urge me. Let nature take its own course, one way or the other.) What I remember is finishing Olive Kitteridge and then being very disappointed by Amy and Isabelle, but I don’t remember anything about why. After reading these two books, I think I need to go back and give Amy and Isabelle another chance.

The books are almost like collections of short stories, but completely interwoven, so you learn more about the various characters through their roles in other characters’ stories. Both books are about the same batch of people, so they should be read one right after the other, starting with Lucy Barton.

Sticker Mosaics

I am back from a several-day trip hanging out with extended family in a pretty place, and there are happy things about being back home with all my usual things in all their usual places, but also I am feeling a little wan and sad. I made coffee this morning just for me, without the happy anticipatory feeling that soon other people would be coming into the kitchen stretching and saying “Mmmmm, COFFEE!” and then standing around chatting as we appreciate the view out the window.

Well. I have items to heartily, heartily recommend for mixed-age-group gatherings: STICKER-BY-NUMBER BOOKS. I brought some easier ones (marketed for kids) and some harder ones (marketed for adults), and they all got used. My six-year-old nephew found the easier ones completely doable on his own; my eight-year-old niece did a couple of the easier ones and then wanted to try a harder one; she found it difficult but doable. My sister-in-law and I both worked on difficult ones and found them mesmerizing; we also found it was good mental practice in letting things go when they can’t be perfect. Here are the ones I bought:

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Assorted (easier).


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Zoo Animals (easier).


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Under the Sea (easier).


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Assorted (harder).


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Masterpieces (harder).


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Vintage Travel Posters (harder).


I really do suggest going into it prepared for things not to line up PERFECTLY, or you could slightly lose your mind. But some of us could use that kind of practice, and the pleasing thing is that even when things didn’t line up exactly they still looked really good. My nephew was not bothered by things not lining up, and had many little white lines between stickers, and his finished results still looked great.

Cartilage Piercing: One-Year Update

I realized the other day that it has been more than a year since I got my first cartilage piercing. I put a few updates on that post, but just covering the first few weeks; after that I said nothing until I changed the earring six months ago. So I think it is time for an update.

The update is that I hardly ever have to think of it or do anything about it. I don’t have to treat it with saline spray anymore, though I do still rinse it after I finish washing my hair. It almost never looks puffy or pink in the mornings. I still notice it in the mirror and still like it. It is still a hassle when I get a haircut: I put a bandaid over it to protect it from the stylist’s vigorous brush.

The earring is still tipped, and I still care. The angle of the piercing itself is tipped, so there is nothing I can do except learn not to mind. Actually, what I plan to do is find a completely spherical earring, so that the tippage would be unnoticeable. My current earring is a “gold ball”—but it’s actually a tiny domed cylinder, so if it’s tipped you can tell. In the meantime, I tell myself that NO ONE BUT ME WOULD NOTICE OR CARE, and also that maybe the shape of my ear made tipping unavoidable. I don’t like to think that the piercing guy did it wrong, or that I squashed it to a different angle by sleeping on it.

I haven’t changed the earring since the first time. I change my lower-lobe piercing daily and take that earring out at night, but the upper lobe and cartilage earrings (these for both) I just leave in all the time.

A couple of times, usually after getting too worked up about the tippage, I have thought maybe I’ll just take the earring out and never mind about this cartilage piercing idea. Each time, I’ve thought: I lose nothing by leaving it in awhile longer, so why don’t I just leave it in for now. Each time, I’ve been glad.

Tooth Extraction and Implant: Nitrous Oxide vs. General Anesthesia

There will be more on this later YOU CAN JUST BET ON IT, but for now I will just say that I am finally having a top front tooth pulled and an implant put in, and I am conceptually horrified by this whole thing, and soon I will need to choose between having laughing gas during the procedure or being knocked out (I’m saying “knocked out” because I’m not sure what it actually is: on the estimate it says “deep sedation / general anesthesia”). Either way, it all takes place right in the oral surgeon’s chair (no hospital or anything). Either way, the procedure takes about the same amount of time. Here are the considerations, for me:

1. Anxiety. I’m not worried I’ll freak out to a can’t-do-the-procedure extent, at all. But the concepts involved are, as I said before, conceptually horrifying: it’s a front tooth, and it will presumably be removed from my mouth using some degree of force, and then a METAL THING will be SCREWED INTO THE UNDERLYING BONE, but maybe first they will need to DRILL OUT SOME BONE or else ADD SOME BONE. There would be some comfort in thinking I can just check out of the whole thing. See you when it’s over, let me know how it went.

2. After-effects/recovery. When I am put under, I usually have trouble afterward with nausea/barfing. I hate that. (And when I had my wisdom teeth removed, I threw up blood. BLOOD. Without knowing ahead of time that that would happen. It was a memorable experience.) I know there are pills/medicines for that, but still. There’s a waking-up time that I hate, and the whole thing is much more complicated. With laughing gas, they just turn it off and I’d be back to normal in a few minutes.

3. Risk. Going completely out is more dangerous.

4. Expense. Going completely out is much more expensive. This is my least concern—except I think that afterwards, when it’s all over, I might feel differently. Also, it feels babyish to pay so much more for such a relatively minor procedure: I’m not having a LIMB amputated. In earlier times, people used to just drink a pint of whiskey, maybe swab a little more of it on the gums! (The oral surgeon says that is no longer one of the options.)


I was basically set on the knockout until my friend Jillian heard the story and said that she personally would go with the laughing gas. “I LOVE that stuff,” she said. She says you can still feel things and hear things, and you’re basically aware of what’s going on, but you do not care one single bit. Everything is just PEACHY. Like, “Oh! I think there is some pain happening over there! Neat!” She says it takes away allllll the anxiety and stress, and that it’s a good thing it’s not available on the open market or she’d be on it constantly. Well. That sounds like what I might need.

But then I think of how nice it would be to just skip this, mentally. There are so few unpleasant experiences that include the “Wake up when it’s all over” option; perhaps I should go ahead and take this one. But then maybe I’m just postponing the unpleasantness to AFTER the procedure.

Or perhaps I should do the laughing gas to get a better story out of the whole thing, and because Jillian’s review really did make it sound pretty fun. I could do some added incentive thing, like, “If I save $X by going with laughing gas, I can spend $X on _______.”

Plus, I had two permanent teeth pulled when I was about 10 years old, to make room for the rest of my teeth. I didn’t have laughing gas OR get knocked out for that, and I don’t remember it being a huge deal. (To be fair to my current quaking self, back then I was at an age when having gaps in my mouth was familiar, and also looked normal to other people.)

I am leaning toward the laughing gas. I would like to know what you think, especially if you’ve had experience with this.

Peter Cetera

I had a song going through my head, but I could only remember the tune of the chorus plus the words “Do you love me?” But do you know what is a very common theme in music throughout the centuries? That question. It made the search a little difficult. But I did find it: it’s Do You Love Me That Much, by Peter Cetera.

Ahhhhhhhhh it’s so pretty. But SAD. I don’t think I had thoroughly heard the lyrics before. I’d thought it was tender, but it turns out it’s poignant. The first two verses are about how he loves the other person in this way and that way, and does that other person love him those same ways or maybe in other ways to the same degree—which seems like a promising start to a delightful conversation. But then the bridge and the third verse show he got a NO response, and that’s where tender turns to poignant: he asks, does the other person at least love him enough to break up with him so he has a hope of finding someone who DOES love him that much? Well! That’s pretty painful!

Oh! And if you are, as I am, a fan of sincere pining in your love songs, with bonus points for songs that seem to be sung to a real person and not to the singer’s favorite page in the Victoria’s Secret catalog, then may I recommend asking Pandora to play you the Peter Cetera station? I tried it for the first time while cleaning up the kitchen and folding a load of laundry, and here were the first six songs:

1. Glory of Love – Peter Cetera. I remember being over at a friend’s house, and we were painting our nails, and she said, “Oh!! You have to hear this song!,” and she played it, and I was transfixed. She said whatever people used to say before they said “I know, right??”

2. Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon. This was a big hit in my youth. I really liked it. I still like it.

3. Right Here Waiting – Richard Marx. I wouldn’t have thought to add this to a list of songs I like—but when I heard it start playing I didn’t skip it. It has pretty piano.

4. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey. I did skip this one. It’s a fine song, but it plays SO MUCH on the radio stations around here. Also, now every time I hear it I think of “Don’t Start Unbelieving” from Gravity Falls.

5. I Want To Know What Love Is – Foreigner. Not a usual favorite, but good in this grouping.

6. One Good Woman – Peter Cetera.




Hair-Accessories Caddy Clean-Out; Consolidating Hair Clips (Or: Another Exciting Activity I Won’t Make Paul Listen to Me Talk About, But You Are Fair Game)

As one of my tasks for our academic/creative/organizing time, I have been going through the bathroom closet. One thing I wish I’d taken before/after pictures of is my hair-accessories caddy, which is a six-pocket thing that hangs on the wall of the closet. (It is similar to this, if you want a visual, but it hangs from a nail instead of from a shower curtain rod.) All six pockets were full of stuff, and also there were hair-clips clipped up and down the sides.

I threw out about 90% of what I had. Some of it was “I might need this for a hairstyle someday”—but for hairstyles I haven’t worn in, say, fifteen years; and some of it was “I bought this and it didn’t work out, but I’m hanging on to it because it’s brand-new and it seems dumb to get rid of it.” I did dust off and keep my favorite brown pinwale corduroy scrunchie, in case scrunchies come back into style for real; it is hard to imagine, but on the other hand we have skinny jeans back in our midst, and Ghostbusters. I also kept two headbands, because otherwise I keep buying headbands. And I kept a few pairs of hairsticks (like chopsticks) in case I go back to wearing my hair that way, because it’s still a possibility—but I got rid of a dozen or more other pairs. I got rid of a pearl-bead scrunchie so fancy it would only work for a bride who needed a scrunchie, which is a combination I’ve having trouble imagining, but perhaps something like this; some pairs of small barrettes, and some larger barrettes that hold the wrong amount of hair; some of those things that are a bent piece of material (leather, plastic, etc.) with a hole on each end, and you put it on your hair and then put a stick through the two holes to secure it; a bunch of hair elastics that no longer stretched; and miscellaneous updo supplies that I never figured out how to use.

Now everything I’m keeping is in a Target bag, and the caddy is hanging clean and empty, waiting for me to decide what to do next. There are not enough accessories to fill the caddy, so I have to decide: am I keeping the caddy for hair accessories and also using it to store something else? or am I ditching the caddy and finding a new container for the hair accessories? I need to think.

One thing I found while going through the shelves of the closet was more than a dozen packs of the little hair clips I like, the ones that are sold only in assortment packs, but I only want the tortoiseshell ones. I decrease the waste by waiting until they’re on a buy-two-get-one-free sale, but I kept buying them whenever they were on sale and tossing them onto the shelf, and there was quite a little avalanche of them as I removed other things from the shelf. As I use up the tortoiseshell ones, I gradually combine the other two colors into full packs to donate to Goodwill—but there were a few cards with a stripe of black clips and a stripe of clear clips, just sitting there waiting for me to do that. So today during academic/creative/organizing time I turned that heap into this heap:

I have three full and one partial pack of tortoiseshell clips, and I’ll keep that one partially-filled card of black clips to add others to it later, and I can donate the rest.

Summer Activity with Kids Redux: Academic/Creative/Organizing

We are doing our academic/creative summer activity for the third summer in a row, and we have added two new features.

First new feature: a new activity option to choose from. We still do just two 30-minute segments (or just one, if it’s a busy day, or none if it doesn’t fit at all), but now we can choose academic, creative, or organizing. I added this for a couple of reasons. One: some of us (Rob, Elizabeth, me) want to organize stuff, and feel happy when it’s done, but we have trouble making ourselves do it; this made me think of it as a candidate for our summer project, because the whole thing started on a concept of “these are things we want to do, but we can’t make ourselves do them.” Two: after two summers of this, I am having a hard time finding creative things I want to try, and would REALLY rather spend that time working on the bathroom closet or undoing what Paul did to the pantry.

Second new feature: Life Training. Rob’s upcoming departure is making me panic about all the things I maybe forgot to tell him. Also, this means I get a head start on the other kids. I have been adding almost daily to a list of things I want to cover:


short showers
take hair off the drain after a shower
rinse toothpaste-spit down the sink
check toilet rim/seat after using, and remove anything left behind
boys: periodically use toilet paper to wipe dust/moisture off lidless ring
clothes out of bathroom
hang up towels
put out a new roll of toilet paper when the old one is getting low
use your own towel or the handtowel for hand-drying
if the bathroom smells bad, put on the fan and/or use air freshener
turn off the lights when you leave the bathroom

pick up things that fall on the floor
throw away wrappers
if you miss the trash, try again

if a piece of laundry is wet, hang it on the edge of the laundry basket to dry

hang up coat/backpack

plug phones in after use

check pockets before putting things into laundry
turn clothes rightside-out before putting into laundry
put socks into their natural state before putting into laundry
stain-treat if necessary

clear dishes
remove liquid from cups
remove food from dishes
soak if necessary
follow-up on dishes left soaking
wash outsides/backs of dishes/pans as well as insides/fronts
put dishes into dishwasher
wipe up spills you make

bring things up from the pantry when supply is getting low
put things on the list when pantry is getting low

if you use up something refillable (some hand soaps, for example), refill it
if you use up something non-refillable (other hand soaps, for example), get out a new one
if you don’t know which one something is, ask someone who does know (Mum, for example)
some things can have a little water added to them to stretch them

if you take something away from where it belongs, put it back afterward
if you use something out in the yard, put it away afterward

fold bags multiple times before clipping

chew with your mouth closed
please / thank you
sneeze into elbow
use a handkerchief or tissue / don’t pick your nose publicly
close doors quietly



This is not in any way a COMPLETE list: it’s just the things I want to emphasize this particular summer. And for almost all of this list, this is not the first time we’ve been over it: I have been instructing/nagging about these things for YEARS. But some stuff is new, like refilling hand soaps and adding water to stretch things: I always handle that, and it occurred to me that they might not even know it’s being done, let alone how to do it. And with the stuff I’ve been instructing/nagging about for years, I’m not sure I’ve told EVERY child the why and how of it, or carefully/patiently showed them what I mean, or PUT IT IN WRITING SO THEY CAN’T SAY I DIDN’T TELL THEM. I can feel as if I’ve said something A MILLION TIMES when actually it turns out I explained it to three of the five. Also, some of the items have a new why/how element now that Rob is going to be living with people he isn’t related to.

Some things, like loading the dishwasher, are going to be ongoing throughout the summer: I will keep calling the children in to show them how to do it, and then I will keep having them try it themselves. For the smaller/shorter items on this list, we are adding them to the academic/creative/organizing schedule. Here is how we do it:

30 minutes academic/creative/organizing
brief gathering to discuss what we did
30 minutes academic/creative/organizing
brief gathering to discuss what we did
one life training lesson

Yesterday, for example, we reviewed handshakes and making eye contact and saying “Hi, I’m _____” and then saying “Nice to meet you!”; we practiced it for when you’re the one starting it and for when someone else starts it.

The whole batch of activities takes approximately an hour and twenty minutes, and I’m finding it very satisfying. We don’t have a very busy summer this year, so this gives me the feeling of Doing Things, and also helps with general summer restlessness: the kids might be bickering and I might be irritable, but then we do this and everyone feels better afterward. And the bathroom closet is looking great.