The Chore Board

“Jim, get up!!! I have to get ready, and I can’t do that if Ruby continues to stick her arms in the toilet.” Errrrrr… Me no wanna get up, so sleepy. I bury my head under the pillow and yell to the bathroom, “I want the day off.” After I say this, it hits me…. Is Cath my boss? No way sucka! Ain’t no one the boss of me, I run this show. If she wants me up so bad, she better ask nicely, she better recognize her place, and she better not-

“Get Up NOW!”

“Okay-Okay, sheesh.” Yuck.… she owns me. I mope over to the bathroom grab Ruby and her toilet soaked PJ’s then head for the coffee pot. I get there and… What the? Nothing!? No delicious Kona aroma cutting through last night’s fish dinner. No piping hot wakie-wakie drink? Nothing? Zip. I have more liquid welling up in my eyes than there is in the pot. I’m devastated.

“You didn’t start the coffee!?” I raise my voice just to make sure my Y- chromosome is still working, then I fart. Yup, everything appears to be in order. I decide to test my man powers by staring at the vacant pot and willing it to brew. Meanwhile, Ruby has taken offense to my less than pleasing or shall I say “harsh” morning release. In defense, she decides to rake her little ninja-sharp fingernails across my neck, successfully lacerating my Adams apple. I begin to feel dizzy.

“I didn’t start it, ’cause we don’t have any filters!” I gasp for breath, this horrible predicament, along with a rapid drop in blood pressure, brings me to my knees. After the white spots disappear, I retain my balance and decide that as the alpha male, it is my duty to invent or at the very least re-imagine a coffee filter.

I put Rubers into her chair, smotherthe tray with Cheerios and begin to work. Okay, the first thing I need is material. Three sheets of Brawny paper towels should do. Next, Icut them down to size, push them into place, grind up the coffee, fill the pot with water, put the hammer away, close the tool box and press brew. Dun-dun-dunnnn…. I. Am. Awesome!

Ruby and I strut into the living room where Cathy and Lu are watching cartoons. I put Ru on the floor and place my hands on my hips andannounce to the females, “Coffee will be done in a minute.” Then I crack my knuckles… all of them.

“I thought we didn’t have any filters?” Why does she underestimate the power of a man?

“I made one.” She seems unimpressed… I crack my neck… twice.

“Interesting. Well, I gotta go. Remember, you need to call and make a doctor’s appointment for Ruby and clean the bathroom.”

“Yeah-yeah-yeah, I know-I know.” Man, she acts like I don’t know what’s going on around here. It’s Monday, and Monday is bathroom cleaning day, it says so right on the brand new Chore Board she made for me. She doles out the kisses and vanishes outthedoor for the next 11 hours.

When I finally get to the kitchen where I expect to pour myself a piping hot cup of coffee, I’m startled to find what looks like a blob of brownish dough oozing from the top of the coffee pot. It was early, but I’m almost certain I put coffee and not cinnamon rolls into the world’s most awesome coffee filter. I then realized it had been about 20 minutes since the brew process was started and there was only about an inch or so of a not quite brown and not quite clear liquid in the pot. I grab a fork for defense and move closer to the doughy mass.

After a quick poke to the beast I realize that I wasn’t dealing with a monster. This was my Brawny filter and itway too absorbent! My ingenious replacement was so awesome it took on a whole 10 cups by itself, and consequentially grew to 50 times its original size. I guess I over compensated for potential tearing and might have added too many layers, ’cause WOW, it was a sight to behold. At this point I had two choices. I could either get the girls dressed and head out for coffee, or, I could squeeze.

As I stand there wringing every last drop of “coffee” into my mug, Lucy appears from around the corner to inform me she has peed “a little” on the floor of the bathroom. She then tells me not to worry, because she will wipe it up all by herself. I take a swig of what amounts to be the dullest coffee in the world and head to the bathroom, where I realize that Lucy clearly doesn’t understand the meaning of “a little.”

“What happened?”

“Well, I didn’t do all the pee-pees in the toilet.” I don’t bother to ask if this “little” puddle was the outcome of getting there too late, or getting off too early, I’m not sure it matters. I put my coffee flavored water down and assess the situation. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a positive accident. I’ll clearly have to mop the floor; which was on my list, so essentially I’ll have half of my chores done by 8 am.

Now I turn all my energy to chore 2: Ruby’s doctor appointment. The quicker this gets completed, the more time I’ll have for laundry, a nap and all myTIVOed episodes of Ellen. For the time being, Ru and Lu appear to becontent, so I grab the phoneand attempt to bring the hammer down on my Chore Board.

Disclaimer: All names have been changed to insure our kids will continue to receive health care without retribution.


“Thank you for calling Sunnyside Pediatrics, if you know your parties extension press one now. For all other inquires please hold.” I don’t know my parties extension, so I hold. There is music on the line, but it’s choppy and muffled immediately it begins to irritate me. After 5 minutes of waiting, I can’t take it anymore, I press 1.

“You have entered an invalid number, for the company directory press two. For all other inquiries please hold.” I’m sorta confused, how could 1 be invalid if it was the only choice? The music begins again. I wait for a minute and decide to press 2.

“Thank you for calling Sunnyside Pediatrics, to further assist you please listen to the menu before making your choice. For office hours and address press one. For company directory press two. For billing press three. To make an appointment press four. To speak to an operator press pound. If this is an emergency please hang up anddial nine-one-one. Thank you and have a nice day.” The phone makes that clicky hang-up sound and then I hear the dial tone. I press 4, nothing happens. I press 1, 2, 3 and # nothing happens. I hang up the phone take a deep breath and peek into Lucy’s room; she has a sticker caught in her hair… I close the door, and start the process again.


“Thank you for calling Sunnyside Pediatrics, if you know your parties extension press one now. For all other inquires please hold.” Cue stupid music. I press 1 immediately.

“Please enter your party’s extension followed by pound.” Hmmm…. I have no idea. I decide on 11#.

“You have entered an invalid number please re-enter the number followed by pound. For all other inquiries please hold.” At this point, I’m still relatively calm, but now I have to bring in some logic, and logic makes me angry. I figure since 11 was invalid they were either on a single number system starting at 5, or a double number system higher than 11, but I’m scared it will hang up if I get another extension wrong. I’m also not convinced anyone will answer if I hold. I wait a couple of seconds; I panic and push 27#.

“You have entered an invalid number please re-enter the number followed by pound. For all other inquiries please hold.” Mother! I clench my buttocks to refrain from slamming the phone to the floor, I hold, and I hold…. and I hold. Finally, I decide just hang up and start over. But, right before I hang up, in that split second when your thumb is pushing down on the end call button, I hear, “Hello?” I couldn’t stop the force of my thumb and I quickly hear the “click,” then a dial tone. That did it, this sends me into a fury. I run into the kitchen, I have a headache; I grab some coffee beans and begin chewing them. This bitter caffeine chargeimmediatley sends me into a euphoric Hulk-like fury. I slam a glass of milk (which I hate) for no reason whatsoever, take a deep breath, peek into Lucy’s room where she is completleystripped off all of her clothesexcept for Tutu, which is nowcovered with stickers. Ruby is sitting on Lu’s bed clapping and sucking on a sock. Lucy asks me why I’m sweaty; I ask her how Ruby got on the bed? She shrugs her shoulders. I tell her I’ll be right back; I shut the door, stomp down the hall reminding myself to breath. I pick up the phone, and the begin the processfor the third time!


“Thank you for calling Sunnyside Pediatrics, if you know your parties extension press one now. For all other inquires please hold.” Immediately the music starts and it send me to astate of horror and near convulsions. I start drooling and frothing at the mouth. My heart is beating so hard I begin to hyperventilate. I wanna slam the phone through the wall; instead I just squeeze it really really hard. I’m scared to do anything but wait. I begin to pace like a crazed dog. I take my frustration out by pummeling our defenseless couch. Seconds turn to minutes. I’m about to hang up and call 911, and tell them that “it is about to go down at Sunnyside Pediatrics,” but in order to get an address I have to push a completely nonsensical and confusing strain of numbers, which I can’t do right now! Ahhhhh…..

I start to rehash the calls wondering if there was something I missed, some secret code that links you right to a human. I go over the sequences aloud when I realize that I’m beginning to sound like Rain Man, I crack. I can’t make heads or tails of anything. It’s been 8 minutes and I’m 20 seconds from ending up a crazy self-conversating homeless guy. Then just as the tears begin to fall I hear a click, a ring and finally a voice.

“Hello Thank you for calling Sunny Side Pediatrics, my name is Julie how can I assist you.” I’m almost to choked up to talk. I clear my throat.

“I need to make a one year appointment for my daughter Ruby with Dr. Elms.” Sniff-sniff. She gives me the date and time. I don’t even bother to check the calendar.

“Is there anything else I can do for you today?” Here’s my chance…

“As a matter of fact you can. I would like to make a complaint to whoever set up your infuriating phone system. I was on the phone- -“

“Okay sir; please hold while I connect you to the appropriate extension.”

“No wait. No don’t! Please God no! Please! You won’t like me when I’m angry! Errr…Nooooo……. Errrrr….” The music starts, that’s the last thing I remember.

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