Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Was Not Aware That There Would Be Math Involved.

Math is not my strongest subject. I've always found it intimidating, sigh. The roots of this are deep, y'all, way deep and stuff. I could tell you about the time Ms. Ward yelled at me in front of my 6th grade math class cause I was doing something wrong with fractions. (I had a stress headache the rest of the day.) I could tell you about the time my mom, in a homework session gone drastically wrong, nearly killed me with my 4th grade math book. She would tell that story differently, but I think we all know that 9 year olds have a stronger grip on reality and a healthier perspective, right? Plus, this is my blog. And also? Nanny nanny boo boo.

I suppose my talents lie in other areas. So yesterday I found myself with a dilemma. It's been a very busy couple of weeks here at La Casa de Down Under, and I really, nay, desperately needed to clean our bathrooms. The house that we live in has an unaccountably high number of bathrooms, you see. When we rented it a few years ago, we were told that the builder built it for himself, and he obviously built it with some very specific needs. Maybe he had a small bladder? Cause there are loads of bathrooms here. At last count, we had five toilets in this house, but that number could change. More seem to be popping up all the time.

As you might imagine, cleaning all these bathrooms takes awhile. Even longer when I am continually stopping to mediate disputes, fill drink bottles, find paintbrushes, and take stuff out of Grace's mouth. As I got started on our bathroom the kids were playing happily and Grace was bouncing in her Jolly Jumper. Then I started hearing big, reverberating BOOMS coming from the hallway. And laughter. And more booms. I walked out of my room to find this.

As you can see, the kids grabbed all the spare pillows they could find and were jumping from the top of the stairs to the bottom. It's half a staircase really, and they were having a ball. And they were not fighting or whining or trying to find me. Grace was more than entertained watching them from the safety of the doorway at the top of the stairs.

And here's where the math comes in. I stood there in the hallway, toilet brush in hand, wondering about statistics. About probability. And wishing I'd paid better attention in my college stat class. I know stair-jumping isn't the safest household game to play. Someone could land wrong and twist their ankle. Someone could bruise their tailbone. Someone could crack their head on the nearby doorjamb. However, if I don't clean these bathrooms, we could all get some kind of bacterial infection and die. Given a little more time, the dirty diapers in the trashcan could become sentient beings and demand their rights. The clumps of dried toothpaste on the kids' sink could fossilize. What is likely to be more dangerous, statistically? If a hundred children jump into this pile of pillows, what percentage would require immediate medical attention? If a swab were taken of my bathroom floor, what is the probability of getting fined by the Health Department? If I flip a coin 50 times, how many times will it land on tails and how many times will Nate land on his head? You see? Math, y'all.

No one said parenting would involve math. In the heat of the moment, I ran the numbers and decided to let them carry on. And there was much rejoicing.

Note: No one was injured in the making of this blog post. Miraculously! And I discovered that happy kids and clean bathrooms are not mutually exclusive. (Ha! See? At least I remembered that from my Stat class.) I also discovered that I am a total sucker. Cause when the kids saw me in the hallway, Ava asked if they could "help" me clean. I said, "The best way for you to help me right now is to play and let Gracie watch you, to keep her happy." They were not thrilled with this idea. I could see all my plans crashing around my feet. Grasping for an attractive alternative, I said, "How about I pay you and Nate to babysit for me? I'll give you each 50 cents if you keep playing and just talk to Grace and let her watch you."

So, yes. In essence, I paid my kids a dollar to let me clean the bathrooms. I told you I'm not very good at math.


  1. hahahahaha!!! This was so funny. I love the thought of the diapers demanding their rights. When are you gonna write a book?

  2. Wow, that's a lot of bathrooms! Over here I figured that I am only really using one and the 3 boys are using the other three. They are on a schedule where once a week they clean a bathroom (theirs, a opowder room and one in basement) and it rotates. They dread when it's their turn to do their own bathroom cuz that involves the shower and the toothpaste laden sink. And the Youngest is the best at it.
    Off-Topic question: My middle son last asked if your kids have accents. Now he is asking about your kids' school vacations. Talk to me...there is summer break in which you have the Christmas holiday--how long does that last? And then when we (U.S.) have summer break, do you get a winter break? And right now here it is spring break--what other breaks do the kids get? Thanks!

  3. Lily loves to jump down our stairs, and she always gives me a heart attack! (She's not as smart as your kids, and no pillows are involved!) I finally told her that she was only allowed to jump from the third step down...no higher!

    Speaking of bathrooms, I should probably go grab that toilet brush....

  4. Ah! My best friend, Kaysie, and I used to play that all the time on the stairs at her house! Only her stairway was much longer, and had a treacherous wooden railing along one side. Only, Kaysie's mother wouldn't have been cleaning the bathrooms, because they had a maid for that. And she was likely to have been taking a nap due to the "sick headaches" she was prone to. Mmm, we got away with a lot at Kaysie's house.

  5. Ooh, I think I remember Ms. Ward. Yikes.

    You are the fun one, because I would have seen that going on and just automatically been like, "Shut it down!"

    Your number of bathrooms is really redork. Could you close some of them off so they never have to be cleaned?

  6. I had boring math teachers.

    I would have let the kids keep playing too. Especially on a half staircase. It's not even really stairs is it? It's just benches at different levels.

  7. this is really funny!
    you have huge talents in all other faculties, so don't fret:)

  8. ... or you paid them a dollar to keep jumping down the stairs. Either way you look at it? Awesome.

    I feel like I do this all day long, not only with daring feats but also with BIG messes. Sometimes it's worth sweeping up 2,508 buttons or vacuuming piles of glitter off the table just so I can cook dinner or fold the laundry without all of those interruptions. In the long run it makes less work. I think. Math was never my favorite subject either.

  9. MicheleR--Tell your son that for the most part, the kids still have American accents, though I definitely hear some Aussie twang coming in. Especially when Ava is repeating something she learned at school. The other day she came home saying she wants to be a "photographah". They say "rubbish" instead of trash and "pardon" instead of excuse me. And their inflection is a bit different too--more sentences go "up" at the end, if that makes any sense.

    As for our vacations...we are actually on school holidays right now! It's not our spring break of course, though. It's a two week break between Term 1 and Term 2 of the school year. The year is broken up into 4 terms and there are 2 week breaks between each term. Our summer break (over Christmas) lasts about 6 weeks, which seems short. But we make up for it by getting the breaks through the year. Also, our school year begins in the beginning of the calendar year, which is another big difference. You have a very perceptive son! :)

    Ginny--yeah, it's a little nerve wracking to be sure. We've had our share of minor injuries!

    And Cassie--yes!! I do that too. I've lost count of the number of tents built in the living room so I could make dinner.

    Gretchen--I think I need to have more sick headaches. ;)

  10. ... and more maids. Definitely.

    I can't believe you coexist with five toilets. You know that saying "two and through"? That's pretty much how I feel about toilets.

    and ps, I loved this post!! (I'm a little behind. Can you tell?)