For my birthday, I asked my kids to flush the toilet

This is actually hanging above my kids' toilet. It doesn't work.

This is actually hanging above my kids’ toilet. It doesn’t work.

It’s my birthday today, and as a special gift to me, I asked my kids to flush their toilet.

You see, my three children (ages 15, 15 and 12) share a bathroom and it’s a rare morning when I don’t have to flush for them.

Maybe it’s the muscular exertion required to depress the flusher that stops them. Maybe it takes too much time out of their very full schedules. Maybe, and very likely, they’re trying to drive me insane. Because despite the constant nagging, yelling, threatening and even signage, they consistently fail at this one very simple task.

There are other things I could have asked them to do for my special day. Hanging up their towels on the hooks (designed for this very purpose!) on the wall after their showers, for instance. They prefer to leave them in a wet heap on the floor, though, and I wouldn’t want to deprive them of that pleasure. I also thought about requesting that they load their dishes in the dishwasher properly – i.e. vertically, in the specified slots, rather than haphazardly shoved in horizontally and diagonally as though my tableware were Cirque de Soleil acrobats. Also on my list: replacing the toilet paper when there’s none left, because what exactly do they use when the roll is empty? Using one of several designated laundry baskets for dirty clothes (instead of the floor, desk, chair, couch, dog etc.). And one of my personal favourites, removing their pants and underwear as TWO distinct items rather than leaving me to untangle their clothing origami.

I feel like I must have gone wrong somewhere in my parenting. In almost every other respect, my kids are kind, thoughtful and well-mannered.

People who don’t live in our house often tell me how lovely and polite they are.

I’ve actually seen them behave, in the homes of others, in ways that could be construed as helpful and considerate, like hanging up their jackets rather than laying them down on the floor like area rugs.

This is evidence from the actual scene of the crime.

This is evidence from the actual scene of the crime.

But in our house there seems to be some huge disconnect. I am so tired of my own badgering and bullying. I’ve already exhausted all blackmail and bribery possibilities, short of hijacking their phones and threatening to publicize some unflattering selfies. Sure, once in awhile I call a family meeting, tell them I feel under appreciated and disrespected, cry a little, and manipulate them into shape. But my tears only buy me a little good behaviour time. Before long, we’re back to spoons on the tv console, golf-ball sized globs of toothpaste in the sink (does any actually get into their mouths?) and every television in every room left on, regardless of the fact that no one, except the maybe the dog, is watching. And she would way prefer Animal Planet to The Big Bang Theory.

I know this is not a huge ordeal in the grand scheme of life. My kids are happy and healthy and maybe I should just shut the fuck up and count my blessings.

But something about that unflushed toilet drives me to the brink and makes me want to start every morning with a shot of Grey Goose in my coffee.

I hope by the time you read this, my birthday wish will have been fulfilled. Maybe, if I’m extra lucky, I won’t have to remind anyone to brush their teeth or explain that the crumbs from the kitchen table shouldn’t be wiped onto the floor.

Or maybe you should just ring my doorbell with a bottle of vodka and remind me how lucky I am to have kids who make me crazy.

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