Lists are necessities of life in this household

Categorized as 01/11/10 Goshen News column

Lists are big around here. When we travel, I make one for each person, detailing every single item that’s needed down to the number of socks and underwear to be packed.

Grocery shopping is done with a comprehensive list. This is a habit born of necessity. Without it, I’m like a one-legged man trying to complete a 5K successfully. The chances of nailing it are real slim.

Furthermore, it’s a self-protective measure. Heaven help me if I forget something important, like peanut butter for instance. Mothers have been fired and replaced for less than that, so it behooves me to be on my toes.

When it comes to household chores, lists are critical. This is especially true for two of our number. These fellows have elevated the habit of dinking around to an art form. With their bright, inquiring minds, they can find 437 things to do that are very clearly not on the list, and that’s on a slow day. Hence, no list for them is complete without a deadline.

It’s interesting, in a maddening kind of way, to watch the panic and flurry that ensue as the clock counts down the final minutes. Sometimes they make it. Sometimes they don’t. If it’s a “don’t” day, they immediately segue into a spirited version of the Blame Game.

“I would’ve made it if you hadn’t been…”

“But I was waiting for you to do so-and-so first.” This goes on until they’re hoarse and I’m catatonic, all of which brings me to the point of today’s column.

A list is just what I need, I think, to pull me out of the post-holiday doldrums. We can’t laze around in our PJs anymore because it’s time for schedules and buses and work. The days are short, the nights are cold, and it’s a long time until Memorial Day. What this amounts to, then, is a pep talk to myself so I can remember why working from home is so great.

First off, I can give thanks that my commute consists of walking upstairs and firing up the computer. This can be done in my slippers. Thankfully, there are no slow drivers puttering around in the fast lane (yippee), and there’s no rush hour traffic. Oh, wait. Yes, there is, but it’s all foot traffic, and it disperses real fast when I holler, “Bus!”

In addition, we save big bucks on fuel and auto maintenance costs. If my battery is running low and regular coffee plus jumper cables isn’t cutting it, then I can arrange for a slightly longer commute that takes me in a very circuitous route from the back door to Northwood to drop off the sophomore to my local Starbucks. There, I collapse across the counter and whimper, “Hit me with an extra shot in that mocha.” Before you know it, I’m back home just a-buzzin’ in front of my computer.

Yup. That’s a big one in the plus column.

The second item on the list is the flexibility. It’s wonderful. Huge plus, in fact. When someone has a school function, a doctor’s appointment, or a sporting event, I can take off and go if I need to. The only drawback is when certain people who know about this benefit use it to their personal advantage for things like forgotten homework and keys that they’ve locked in a car.

Here’s where this one wants to slide over into the minus column. Lucky for them, having that coffee house within striking distance when I’m making the drop helps smooth my ruffled feathers and keeps that one over on the plus side. Thanks to this self-medication method, they’ve managed to avoid eviction thus far. Just barely, but they’ve managed.

A third wahoo is all the money we save on child care and the fact that I’m on site to supervise this bunch. These are the guys, after all, that make flame throwers from aerosol cans. They think that a mower is a getaway vehicle. They have shootouts with their Air Soft guns. One of them is currently undergoing a rigorous potty training initiative under my direction and certainly needs close supervision.

Wait a minute. I thought this was a “Praise the Lord” list to help me feel better. Moving on, then…

I know this next one’s supposed to go on the plus side, too. It sure is cozy to type in your slippers, and we sure do save money on the wardrobe. It’s called business casual; real casual some days, and the business ranges anywhere from actual work-related duties to monkey business. It’s just that I’m a girl, and girls like clothes. We especially like it when we have a very good and valid reason to support a wardrobe expansion.

The next order of business, then, is to figure out how I can justify one of these and convince Mr. Schrock. He’s a sharp one, though, and it won’t be easy, especially if he reads this list in the paper. If you see my delivery guy, please tell him to slip it to me on the QT, okay?

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