When my sons were pre teens, one of their chores was to do the dishes. Apparently this was torture to them, because they would do just about anything to avoid it. Nick and Neil are identical twins, actual mirror images of each other. But, being mirror images they often have opposing views… and by often I mean always. Even though they are inseparable, they have debated and argued for about 34 years now. Of course like most parents, when the kids were young, I wasn’t really that interested in settling sibling rivalries… I wanted quiet… and for them to do the dishes. My reasoning was simple. I provided and cooked the food, so it was only fair that the two of them should do this one simple task. “Look… I don’t care how you figure it out, or who does what. It’s your job to come to an understanding and get this done!” Unfortunately, that would have taken the willingness to compromise, not to mention the ability to recognize that it was in everybody’s best interest that they do so. Oh, and they would have to shut up long enough to actually do some work.
Anyway… they argued for several days as the dishes piled higher and higher, stubbornly refusing to come to a consensus. “It’s Neil’s fault… It’s his turn to do them!” Neil, of course, disagreed. “No… Remember Nick? I didn’t have to do them because we had pizza last week on paper plates!” “That doesn’t count Neil!” hollered Nick. “You have to do them the next time if you skip a day!” “Oh yeah!” countered Neil defiantly. “What about when you went to camp last year and you didn’t do dishes for a week!” Just as my brain was about to explode, I said, “That’s it! Both of you are going to do the dishes… TODAY…TOGETHER!”
As I stood behind them watching them rinse off the dishes and place them in the dishwasher (Yeah, that’s right… they even had a dishwasher!) they continued to bicker and blame each other as they worked. Nick would accuse Neil of splashing him and then Neil would critique the way that Nick was stacking the dishes. On and on…
After the dishes were finished, I sat down to relax for the first time that day. But I could still hear them in the other room, “spreading the cement of brotherly love and affection”. “Geez you’re stupid!” “Oh Yeah, well at least I do something around here!” “What? You’re such a fibber!” “DAD!”
Now if this story sounds strangely familiar, I have a pretty good idea why. Even as adults, we often seem to forget that despite our individual interests or opinions, there is a greater good and that it is our duty to come to an understanding with others so that we can get the job done. I know, I know… it’s the other guy’s fault… but it’s time for all of us to just step up to the sink and do the dishes… today… together.