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A Household Word
Independence Day
The way I see it, my job as a parent is to put myself out of business. When my kids can pour their own orange juice, brush their teeth without multiple reminders and remember where they left their soccer cleats, then I will congratulate myself on a job well done and book a cruise to Bora-Bora.

So far my job security seems to be assured. My kids have discovered that itís easier, faster and a lot more fun to yell "Maaaahhhhmm," than it is to unwrap a new roll of toilet paper, cut their own sandwich or look under the couch for the TV remote all by themselves.

"Maaaahhhhmm!" my 13-year-old daughter screams from her bedroom. I gallop up the stairs, expecting bloodshed and dismemberment, but she hands me a wrinkled shirt and says, "Can you iron this for me?" I remind her as I shoot steam onto her favorite $40 T-shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch that in many countries girls her age are already married and ironing their own shirts as well as the entire wardrobe of their 9-year-old husbands.

"You do it better than me," she says with an endearing smile.

Maybe, but there are so many things that she does so well. She can blow-dry her hair ítil it lies stick straight, do her homework while she listens to the radio, talk to eight friends online and paint her fingernails while eating popcorn. If she only had more practical skills, I might be packing for Bora-Bora already.

My 8-year-old emerges dripping wet from the tub and yells down the stairs.

"Maaaahhhhmm! I need more toys in the tub," he demands.

"You can get them," I say in my most supportive voice.

"No, I canít. Iím all wet."

"Yes, you can," I assure him.

"No I canít."

He has all the time in the world to debate and to stand buck naked in the hallway while the water puddles around his feet. He has a lot more time and infinitely more patience than I do. So itís me who ends up mopping the hallway and fetching plastic WWF figures and a rubber-band-powered submarine from his room as I mentally postpone the trip to Bora-Bora.

My 15-year-old son is self-sufficient in so many ways. He can cook and consume a pound of bacon for his lunch, figure out how to burn a CD from swiped music on the computer, and remove the batteries from our only working flashlight and insert them into his Walkman Ė all by himself. Yet, he cannot get on his bike and ride across town to a friendís house if itís cloudy, more than 72 degrees or if the wind is blowing from the east.

"Maaaahhhhmm," he yelled from the driveway yesterday. "Can you drive me to the high school?"

"Itís two blocks away," I gently reminded him. "Itís a beautiful day. Why donít you walk?"

"I donít want to be late for the track meet," he said. "Iím running the mile."


My kids still depend on me to wake them up every morning, dole out money, do their laundry, remind them to clean their rooms, monitor their TV viewing, curtail their computer use, referee fights, determine punishments and drive them all over town. Sure, itís kind of nice to be needed, but not this much. Over two centuries ago, it was revolution that paved the way to independence. Maybe thatís whatís needed at my house. Either a revolution, or a one-way ticket to Bora Bora.

Carol Band is looking forward to a trip to Bora-Bora sooner rather than later. E-mail her at band_carol@hotmail.com.

Click here for a complete archive of Carol Band's Household Word columns.

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