The evidence was mounting. It was too much to ignore.
Wet towels on the floor in the bathroom. Dirty socks and underwear behind the bedroom door, mere inches from the hamper. Magazines, Barbie dolls, shrugged-off jackets and last Monday's lunch leftovers were littering another bedroom floor. Books, blocks, Matchbox cars and two hundred ball-pit balls dispersed about the living room.
Crumbs littering the table, the bread bag left open, an empty milk carton in the fridge and peanut butter and jelly fingerprints on the walls were too much to ignore. It was time to face the facts.
“House trolls,” I told my husband.
“Yes. Here.” I handed him the morning paper.
“Where's the Comics Section?”
He looked for margarine to spread on his toast. “Are we out?”
He grunted his agreement. At last I had his attention. A man just isn't right without a good breakfast and a virgin copy of the morning paper to start his day. “They're grounded,” he said. When my husband makes this statement it's final, but I protested anyway.
“Grounded? Do you know what that means? They'll merely wallow in the rising filth in their rooms and I'll be left to clean the entire house by myself.”
My husband looked pained. If house trolls can't be trained with a good old-fashioned grounding what did I expect?
At dinner that night I issued the decree. “There will be no more television in this house until the house trolls are exterminated.”
“House trolls?” Five expectant faces looked my way.
“Yes. They seem to be taking over the house. They've trashed the bathroom. They've redecorated your bedrooms. And I'm not very fond of the veneer of grape jelly on the walls.”
“Oh. That again.”
By that afternoon they were looking peaked. Three days later they were gasping for air. One week later, there was some semblance of orderliness to their rooms and they all had severe facial tics, but I held out.
“Mother! We can't take it anymore! Please, please, dear Mother, please allow us just ONE commercial!” I sang the theme song to their favorite show, but stood my ground.
Three weeks later, they had acquired new habits, the house trolls had completely evacuated and at last I plugged in the third parent. Immediately the children began to regain a healthy color.
If parents wish to regain control of the house, there's no better method than nixing the TV. Sure, they'll be a lot of yelling and screaming and moaning about, but once you and your spouse get over it, you'll realize it's not so bad for the kids either.
The severe facial tics will decrease as time passes. Only three teachers commented on it.
(Jelly Mom is written by Lisa Barker, author of Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn't Mean You Are A Bad Parent! and syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent. To publish Jelly Mom, buy the book or leave comments, please visit www.jellymom.com.)