Stage 1: Mopey children.
Stage 2: Interested, learning children, doing science experiments out of a book. They have been adequately warned that they will be responsible for cleaning up the mess, according to child development, Montessori, and other intellectual principles. Accompanied by parental smugness and patting self on back.
Stage 3: Children begin getting carried away with science experiments. Much sand, vinegar, food dye, ketchup, and water being consumed. Accompanied by parental concern and warnings. Parent attempts to clean kitchen while youngest child asks for help opening at least 6,000 small containers.
Stage 4: Older children run away; youngest child stays, adding sand to a bowl of awfulness. When older children are reminded that they promised to clean, they will blame this child for the mess. All children are dirty from rainy outdoors and wet sand and ketchup.
Stage 5: First application of food dye to clothing. Accompanied by parental criticisms and child in denial. Additional neighbor children show up. First attempt to get older children to clean; older children point out youngest child is still using the mess. Oldest, most responsible and able child leaves on errands. Dirty children undo all kitchen cleaning attempts.
Stage 6: While parent continues cleaning, all children manage to sneak off and start other projects without actually cleaning up the sand or awfulness. If reminded that they must clean, all children resort to a combination of blaming other children and alleging that they are still using the mess.
Stage 7: Parent barks at children. Children blame and quarrel and express hunger. Children make and eat lunch, making more mess. Neighbor children do not like food. Home children somehow manage not to eat much self-selected food.
Stage 8: Children want to watch a YouTube video. Children are told that they must first clean the mess. Negotiations and blaming ensue. Parent attempts to eat while middle child continually badgers with attempted negotiations rather than helping youngest child clean mess. Parent yells and shouts. Mess is moderately cleaned. Parent attempts to continue to eat but unable to find place to sit that is not close to the annoying video being watched. Youngest child asks for more food; whines when request is denied.
Stage 9: Parent starts hating children, sand, rain, and the rest of the world. Parent sends children to neighbor’s house. Parent sits down and writes snarky blog post until the children return.