So, my 15-year old’s interests are pretty much limited to electric guitar, xBox, and feigning full-body fatigue when asked to do even the simplest of chores. If you watch him play on xBox Live with his buddies, you’ll hear him laughing, yelling, frantically manipulating his controller, and all but jumping up and down in hysterics.
But ask him to clear a dish or put the dog outside and he seems to lose all muscle control. Watching him collapse to the floor in an amoebic heap, you’d think we were asking him to re-shingle the roof or push square boulders uphill. This kid has no idea how easy he has it.
When I was younger, I had to hunt caribou barefoot so my family could eat; I had to dig wells thirty, forty feet deep with my bare hands so my family could drink; and I had to chop down oak trees and split logs with a dull axe so my family could have warmth. All before sunrise.
And I was NINE.
Here, my son gets a ride to and from school, whereas I had to walk four miles (uphill both ways) through treacherous terrain and blinding snowstorms. Sometimes, we’d have to fight off bears and rabid wolverines just to make it to the schoolhouse, which explains why so few of us made it to sixth grade. In my day, we weren’t just pupils. We were prey.
At first, all of his theatrics irritated me. But the more the behavior persisted, the more I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps his reactions were involuntary. As if his brain was being adversely affected by some kind of fluky chemical reaction brought on by visions of effort.
Researching his symptoms on Google, I discovered that he’s suffering from what I have diagnosed as Chore-Induced Narcolepsy. The ailment’s close cousin, traditional narcolepsy, is defined as a sleep disorder that causes extreme sleepiness and frequent daytime sleep attacks. While none of the articles or symptom lists actually mentioned chores as a catalyst, the similarities are simply too great to ignore. I didn’t invent the affliction, I simply gave it a name.
While the root cause of narcolepsy isn’t known, I’m almost certain that Chore-Induced Narcolepsy begins to manifest itself when a teenage boy isn’t tethered to some sort of electronical gadget.
Within minutes of electronics separation, the symptomatic signs of laziness and apathy will begin to surface. It’s only when this separation is combined with a “To Do” list that the risk for a full-fledged Chore-Induced Narcoleptic attack skyrockets.
While there is no known cure for clinical narcolepsy, I am elated to announce that I’ve been able to successfully cure my son of Chore-Induced Narcolepsy with two simple treatments:
1. If he whines about how “tired” he is when given a task, I simply add another one, explaining that the added blood circulation and muscle use will actually help create more energy. Initially, I ran out of additional tasks to give him as he stubbornly refused to give in, but he now hops-to when asked to do something. I just stand there in awe. Cackling like a mad man as he works.
2. We’ve limited his xBox and electronics use to one hour per day. Additional time can be earned by doing chores around the house, but only if said chores are done without griping. Griping cancels any and all earned minutes.
That’s all there is to it and this simple treatment plan has worked wonders. But for very few exceptions, it’s all but eliminated his narcoleptic tendencies. More chores are getting done (many without us even having to ask), whining has been dramatically reduced, and the once-rampant “woe is me” attitude that accompanied his tasks has all but vanished.
I shall now await my nomination for a Nobel Prize in Medicine. It’s not every day that a major affliction is cured without the use of prescription drugs.