You would have thought I would have learned by now.
So, I guess, like my son said, it is partly my fault. Actually, he contends it's all my fault, but he is wrong.
Last weekend I told him he needed to get the lawn mowed, allowing time for the morning dew to dry up, but to get it done in the afternoon.
He mowed the front yard, which was in the sun, and was going to wait until later to take care of the back.
I went to work, naively thinking the yard would be taken care of by the time I came home for my supper break. It wasn't, and I wasn't happy.
He had spent the afternoon at a friend's house and had come home just before I did. I found him in his room with his friends playing video games.
I made him aware the yard needed to be finished, and he gave me the usual, OK.
I waited impatiently for him to get up and get to work.
It started to get dark outside, so I asked if he was going to attach headlights to the mower. He got the hint and finished the yard.
I went to work and the issue died — until I brought it up the next day — and then the fun really began.
Somehow I was wrong because even though I knew he was going to wait to finish the mowing and was going to a friend's house, I should not have expected him to come home early and finish his work.
What was I thinking, expecting him to do his work before he was good and ready? And by good and ready, I mean until I got upset with him in front of his friends, and he knew he had better do something.
The next day, after arguing with my son about expectations — he has none — I gave him a time limit for when I wanted the dishwasher loaded. He beat it with seconds to spare.
This general malaise affects all housecleaning.
I have told my kids something like 11 billion times that dishes need to be done every day, but their interpretation is that is they do them only after telling them 11 billion times each day.
They know the house needs to be picked up, vacuumed and dusted, but they are under the impression that Mom and Dad must tell them every time chores need to be done.
I don't have to tell them to download music.
I don't have to tell them to play video games.
I don't have to tell them to sleep in on weekends.
Their sense of what they can do without prompting and what they must be told repeatedly differ from mine.
How could we be so simple as to expect two teenagers to take the initiative to do chores on their own?
We have caught a break recently. When my daughter brings her boyfriend around, she actually picks up and vacuums. I'm thinking about renting the shed out to him just so the house stays clean.
Maybe the kids are just preparing us for the day they move out and once again it will be my wife and I taking care of the house.
It has been a nice run with the kids pitching in — even if it takes awhile and billions of reminders. But like all good things, it will have to come to an end.
Basically, the kids have us right where they want us. Like a bad contractor, they will do the work on their terms. Come to think of it, it has been that way all along.
Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.