Reward System

Earlier this week, while scampering around the apartment in high heels and a frilly apron, feather duster in hand, I came to a realization that shocked me so profoundly that my knees went weak and I was forced to sink down into the squishier of the two living room sofas, staring into space in a quasi-catatonic state.
I realized that I am, above all else, a toddler. I am, indeed, a four-year-old.
Now before you run away screaming, please be assured that I am in no way referring to the hideous “inner child” that we’ve all heard too much about. The inner child whom we’re encouraged to not only see but to hear within ourselves. The inner child who picks his snotty nose and wipes the crusty-chewy goodness onto a big plateful of kugel at a distant cousin’s bris when only you and your sister are there to witness it and you then fantasize for the next 25+ years about ways to make him regret it … and … then …
The toddler to which I refer is the one that I become whenever I am confronted with an unpleasant obligation, which usually manifests itself in some variety of domesticity. Now, I know this comes as a complete shock to you (almost as much of a shock as this week’s revelation was to me, I’m sure), but … I am not exacty the domestic sort. I pull a push-broom. I don’t know how to boil an egg (do you heat the water first, or put the egg in first?) or slice a canteloupe (through that little indentation, or the other way?) or hem pants. I cannot fold sheets properly, especially the bottom one. In short, I suck at housework. (But until I hire a new personal assistant to replace the one I fired, I’ve gotta do it.)
I even hate doing the little things, such as vacuuming and emptying the dishwasher. Folding laundry. Putting laundry away. Emptying the coffee filter. Making the beds. For the most part, I take shortcuts whenever possible. I figure no one’s going to check under the comforter to see if the bed is properly made beneath it. No one’s going to check my sock drawer to make sure everything’s lined up like little soldiers. But there are still some things that have to be done, and this is how I came to discover that I am, indeed, a toddler. And a petulant one at that.
I have to be bribed or rewarded for doing almost everything even marginally un-fun. This is what passed through my mind as I gave in to the call of domesticity on Monday morning, the day of the big revelation:

  • After I am done making the bed, I can check my email.

  • After I vacuum the floors, I can read the email with the attachment.
  • After I’ve mini-vacuumed the sofa, I can have a glass of Diet Dr Pepper.
  • After I transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer, I can go to the, y’know, ladies room.
  • After I fold the stuff that was just forced out of the dryer by the newly deposited wet load of laundry, I can check my email again.
  • After I wipe down the kitchen counters, I can take a shower.
  • After I dry my hair, I can turn on the air conditioner in the living room.
  • After I empty the dishwasher, I can read “X” (my favorite “blog”).
  • After I fold the laundry, the domesticity will end.

However, something very … bizarre … happened. Upon the completion of each task, I did not stop to reward myself as promised. No. I just forged ahead. Diligent, I was. Dogged. Onward and upward. Until finally … I found that I’d completed everything without taking a break. Imagine! Somehow I’d managed to trick myself into delaying the excitement until everything else was finished. And it was then that I realized something even more remarkable than what I’d discovered earlier that day: I may not be a four-year-old after all. I may be … 12.
And with that, I decided I really needed to celebrate my leap into young adulthood. Therefore, the ultimate reward was treating myself to something that wasn’t on the original list. So as I sank back down onto the sofa, freshly showered and coifed, I finally unwrapped a Soy Dream Lil’ Dreamer non-dairy frozen dessert sandwich. Just desserts, indeed.
So now I wonder. And worry. What am I going to have to do in order to bridge the gap between 12 and phttxxphh?