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Published: Sunday, July 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

About the poop in the bathtub -- it’s not real

One morning this summer I woke up in my 4-year-old's bed, looked over, and saw a horse head.

It was straight out of the movie "The Godfather." Only in my reality, this horse head was purple and attached to a stick. My daughter gave an evil grin and pushed a button, and the stick-horse started to whinny.

That'll teach me to sleep in.

"I wouldn't believe that story except I live in this house and know it to be true," my husband said when I told him.

We're both used to our kids leaving weird stuff around the house all the time. Right now, for instance, there's fake dog poop in our bathtub.

"Don't worry, Mommy," my daughter said about the poop. "It's from China."

I'm not exactly sure how that makes things better.

The fake poop is so realistic-looking that I have to alert dinner guests before they come over that we don't actually own a dog.

"I'm glad you warned me," said a friend who doesn't have children herself. "That poop really caught me by surprise."

In retrospect, I should have also explained to her about the Hexbug larva.

I read a Facebook post from a mom last week asking, "How can I make my 6-year-old keep his room clean?"

Heck if I know.

Yes, my kids have chores. I frequently put them to work with the vacuum cleaner and feather duster. I dock my son's allowance if the table isn't set for dinner. But teaching kids about housework seems to be easier than teaching them to pick up their own trail.

The toys my kids leave in my bedroom are the ones that annoy me the worst: pirate swords, firefighter helmets, fairy wings, Frisbees. If a Realtor walked into our master bedroom right now, he'd probably get the wrong idea.

I know one mom who doesn't even allow her children to come into her bedroom. That's a very bold move in the world of modern parenting.

I am of the philosophy that I want my children to feel welcome in their own home, but not so welcome that they leave detritus all over the place. Like many philosophies, this one's practically useless.

So I clean up and I try to teach my kids to be tidy. We buy less stuff. We donate to Goodwill. Still, the toy clutter crops up.

When things get too bad, I'm even guilty of saying the unthinkable: "Put your toys away right now or they're going in the trash!"

Sometimes you have to make kids an offer they can't refuse.

Jennifer Bardsley blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.

Story tags » Parenting

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