A family that always sees the can as half-empty

By Lori Clinch

Although we are painfully close to being empty nesters, we still get to enjoy the company of our children from time to time.

They come and as they go, they like to leave telltale signs of their aforementioned presence that they were here. There is always at least one stray sock left under the couch, evidence in the bathroom sink and dirty cups strewn about the kitchen.

Generally speaking, I don’t like to spend limited time with our boys complaining about their slovenly ways, but sometimes I really have to let it fly.

Take the other day, for example, when I opened the cupboard under the kitchen sink and saw that not only was the trashcan full to capacity, but was flowing over into the cabinet.

I envisioned my young men as they observed the situation, convinced themselves the receptacle could certainly hold one more item, shoved it into the conglomeration, shut the door and walked briskly away before the dang thing exploded.

I, for one, feel that moments such as these are best handled with family meetings complete with presentations. I am not one to toot my own horn, but I have created some great demonstrations in my day. I have done my Toilet Paper Spindle exhibition, my Bend at the Waist and Retrieve Things From the Floor seminar and my personal favorite, You, Too, Can Put Shoes Away.

I couldn’t help but feel that this moment was screaming for a demonstration. Although I didn’t remember ever delivering a trashcan demo, I was mentally preparing and knew this one could be a doozy.

Luckily the clan gathered only moments later and I jumped right into it.

“Can anyone tell me what this is?” I asked as I opened the cupboard and pointed to the mess in all of its glory.

“Oh, oh, I know,” Lawrence said as he raised his hand high in the air. “Pick me!”

“It’s a trash can,” Charlie blurted out.

Lawrence, obviously in great despair at having his answer stolen from him, then slugged Charlie and called him an idiot.

“Well,” I continued as I ignored the brawl, “can anyone in the room tell, just by looking, what’s wrong with the trash can?”

They all stared at me with wide eyes, but spoke nary a word.  “Anyone?” I asked again.


“Well then I’m going to tell you, my dear family, what is wrong with the trash can. See, it’s at full capacity and although there may be other methods for reaching that conclusion, I, for one, was able to tell just by looking.”

I can’t say I had their full attention or that any of them were happy to be in my audience, but they certainly seemed to be entertained, after all, it had been a while since they had been able to enjoy one of my seminars.

“OK then,” I went on with great drama, “let’s just say an individual, such as yourselves, opened the cupboard and wanted to toss in some garbage. Do you feel you would be able to tell, simply by looking at the trashcan, whether it was full or empty?”

“Could you repeat the question?” Lawrence asked.

“Can you tell, simply by looking, if the trashcan is full or empty?”

“Can you go into detail of the things we should look for?” Charlie asked.

“Never mind that,” I said as my frustration began to build. “Let’s say you looked inside and saw that adding even an ounce of refuse would cause the cupboard to explode, would any of you know what to do?”

Again with the blank stares.

“You grab the trash can, along with all of the stragglers, and pull it from the depths of the cupboard, then you grab the bag, tie it like so and prepare to haul it to the trash receptacle.”

“Wow!” Huey responded as he pretended to be in awe.

Charlie said he thought my process of trash removal was amazing and Lawrence quickly grabbed his cell phone so he could, and I quote, “Text this good information to others.”

They can act as if my words of wisdom fell on deaf ears, but I’ll tell you this, the next time my eyes fall on a similar situation, the trashcan might not be the only thing to explode.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to loriclinch2010@gmail.com.