The hierarchy of delegation…

empty toilet roll

We have a hierarchy of delegation in our house and it’s interesting, as well as mildly frustrating, to see it at work.

The established sibling hierarchy is in direct correlation to birth order, which I assume, is ‘normal’ for most families.  I know it was when I was a kid – I was the youngest. The one who got stuck with all the shitty jobs that the others were able to ‘delegate’ to me.

birth order old

My three older brothers (nine and ten years older) delegated the role of  ‘gofer’ to me. They would pay me the princely sum of twenty cents to walk over a kilometre, on dusty, dirty, unmade roads, to the nearest shop to buy their junk food.

dusty road

 I would come home with their stash, covered in dust, sneezing and coughing, usually limping from having fallen into a small ditch.  I did it because twenty cents wasn’t a bad lurk back in the late seventies and early eighties.  It got me twenty licorice blocks, or an icy pole and fifteen blocks. Not bad for a lung full of dust and a few bruises.

I was also ‘delegated’ to clean the week old vomit off my brother’s shoes. He had a doozy of a 21st birthday party, the proof of which was stuck firmly to the caps of his RM Williams boots. He offered me a whopping $1.00 to do it. Donning yellow rubber gloves, three sizes too big for me, I got about scrubbing and earned my dollar the grossest way possible. But hey, back in 1982 one dollar practically made me a mogul.

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My other delegations were making toast, making beds, making cups of coffee, getting the mail, feeding the cats, and eventually doing the ironing. It wasn’t much fun, but in hindsight, it did prepare me for life outside the home.

Now, I have four sons and I see it as one of the main objectives of motherhood is to prepare them for life outside the family home. One day they will all move out and live independently – eventually with a partner. I want that partner to like me, (does anyone ever like their mother in-law??), so it’s my job to ensure that my boys are house trained properly. That means…delegation.

But here’s what usually happens:

Me:  ‘Ethan, could you please check that there is enough toilet paper in each toilet?’

Ethan:  ‘Awwwww, why me? Why can’t the others do it?’

Me: ‘Because I asked you to do it. They can do other jobs.’

Usually, here I go on some small rant about all the ways I helped my parents when I was young – only slightly resembling an old fart who relives the twenty five kilometre journey to school each morning in a pair of shoes so worn that the only things left intact were the laces.

Ethan: ‘Awwwww, okay.’

Me: ‘Thanks Eth. Good job.’

Ethan: ‘Rylan, go and check the toilets have spare toilet paper will you?’ (distinct lack of please and thank you here).

Rylan:  ‘Awwwww, why me? Why can’t you do it?’

Ethan: ‘Because mum asked you to do it. It’s one of your new jobs.’

Rylan: ‘Awwwww, okay.’

Ethan walks back to his room, grinning.

Rylan: ‘Hey Lachy, go and check the toilets have spare toilet paper.’ Still no please or thank you!

Lachy: ‘Awwww, why me? Why can’t someone else do it?’

Rylan:  ‘Because Mum asked you to do it. There will be no treat for a week if you don’t.’

Lachy:  ‘Awwww, that’s not fair!’ (his body now wilts like an old stick of celery)

Rylan walks back to his room, happy.

Lachy: ‘Hey Callum! I’ve got a big job for you. You’ll get a treat if you do it.’ Said in a very soothing voice, the kind used to convince four year olds to do something they would normally say ‘no’ to.

Callum: ‘Yeth, what ith it?’ (Callum has a lisp).

Lachy: ‘All you have to do is put the toilet paper in the toilets. It’s really easy and Mum will give you a treat when you’re finished.’

Callum thinks about it for a while, seemingly unconvinced of any benefit to himself.

Lachy: ‘Mum will give you two treats! How about that? You’d like two treats, wouldn’t you?’

Callum nods his head so intently he gives himself whiplash: ‘Yeth!’

Lachy walks back to his room, smiling .

Callum: ‘Muuuuuum! Mummy! I can’t reach the toilet paper.’

Me: ‘Okay, Cal. I’ll help you.’

I hand him the spare rolls of toilet paper, and instruct him to place them on top of each toilet cistern.

He opens the toilet door and throws them on the floor.

toilet paper on floor

I pick them up and place them where they are meant to go.

Callum:  ‘Muuuuuum! Mummy! I get my treats now?’

Now my body wilts like an old stick of celery.

Me: ‘Sure, Cal.’ Try telling a four year old that his brother didn’t have the authority to offer any kind of remuneration for this task. It isn’t worth the heart ache.

This is the hierarchy of delegation in my home.

The one I’ve waited my entire life to be at the top of. I was better off being a minion – at least there was some form of payment and gratification at the end of it!

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A Blue Light Fiasco…

In celebration of the pending release of my debut novel, HINDSIGHT, I thought it would be fun to revisit some moments in my own life when a little Hindsight would have come in handy…

As a fifteen year old, I did some pretty dumb things, such as smoking cigarettes in order to be ‘cool’, wearing too much make up, again in order to be ‘cool’ and spending my money on ‘Smash Hits’ magazines because I loved to daydream about marrying a rock star- either John Taylor from Duran Duran or Brian Mannix from Uncanny Xmen (cringe!).

But the dumbest of all would have to be getting horridly drunk before attending a ‘Blue Light Disco’ – a disco run by…da, da, daaaaaaaaa….the Police. Watch out! Genius at work.

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It wasn’t my intention to completely obliterate myself, but it happened nonetheless. You’d think that the fact our destination was called ‘The Blue Light Disco’ and we knew that it was run by the Police would have been a sufficient deterrent, wouldn’t you? Apparently not.

As a crowd of teenagers waited for the bus to the disco at the back of the Bundoora Hotel, two of my friends and I disappeared into the back alley to consume an entire bottle of Southern Comfort. Yep- an entire bottle.

Like I said, genius at work.

I can’t even remember if we mixed it with Cola or just did the really classy thing and chugged it straight out of the bottle.

I had slightly less than the other two and so was not as mind-bendingly drunk, but I also wasn’t able to remain in a vertical position without assistance, preferably from a large, sturdy brick wall.

My best friend arrived – sober- and saw the mess I had gotten myself into and attempted bring me back to life by walking me around in the fresh air. It was a lovely gesture, and a true insight into our friendship, but no amount of exercise or conversation was going to undo the damage I had done to myself, but I guess every little bit helped.

Finally the bus arrived, by which time the full effects of the alcohol had hit my friends and I. Why we still got on the bus and didn’t attempt to leg it home, is still beyond me. What sort of a teenager, drunk and breaking the law by consuming alcohol, would then voluntarily go and present themselves to the Police?

Geniuses, that’s who.

So, as I watched one friend bring back up most of the Southern Comfort she had consumed – which landed perfectly in her white, high heeled court shoes, and another pass out on the bus, did it occur to me that we had done the wrong thing?

Probably – I can’t remember.

The parents of the other girls were called to come and collect them, with my step father coming along for the ride because he knew that I had gone with these girls. While they literally poured her into the car, I did my best ever impersonation of a sober person.

It was Oscar worthy. Truly, if an actor can win an award for playing a drunk while sober, then they really ought to challenge themselves and try to play a sober person while drunk. It’s an art and a science all rolled into one cosmically terrifying event.

I think the excessive adrenaline pumping around my body managed to sober me up a little and I was able to answer their questions as to how it happened. My standard response was, of course, “I don’t know.” I wasn’t going to lag on my friends.

So, we get back to my friend’s house and her mother, who worked in a bar, tried to identify the alcohol by smelling her daughter’s breath. She must have been gifted with extraordinary olfactory superpowers, because despite vast amounts of Vomit breath coming her way, she was still able to identify the culprit as some kind of Scotch. She wasn’t far off the mark.

I went home with my stepfather, who, miraculously, was still none the wiser as to my condition.

Our punishment? You can imagine it wasn’t pretty. Other than the mother of all hangovers, that was the end of our Blue Light Disco escapades. In fact, it was the end of life as we knew it for a good amount of time.

My very own punishment – I later became a Bar Attendant and lost count of how many bottles of Southern Comfort I had to open in the eleven years I worked in bars. Thousands at least – and every bottle came with a complimentary gag, stomach churn and evil flashback to a night when a little Hindsight would have come in handy.