Gramma is here visiting this week, which is great. We love having her here.
And, like most people, we use visitors as the catalyst for heavy housecleaning.
So the wife and I are straightening up in the living room, dining room, kitchen, etc.. We sent the kids upstairs to clean their rooms.
The little girl really doesn't "get" cleaning her room. She pretty much interprets anything we say as far as pick up to mean "let's play with this for a while."
The Boy, however, understands a little better what we mean by pick up. This is not to say, however, that he heeds our instructions, he merely understands them. So, the wife tells him to go clean his room and to start by picking up his books. He then goes into his room and starts playing with his cars. Mom tells him a couple more times he needs to pick up his books. (skip a few pages,) Finally, mom runs out of patience with the boy, who hasn't been listening. This is my cue to come offer some direction. I go in to The Boy's room, where I see his cars out, his stuffed animals all over the place, trash strewn about, books on the floor, folded clothes not put away, etc. I tell him to get to work, start by picking up the stuffed animals.
"But mom told me to put my books away."
"Are you putting them away?"
"No." (note, this is the full extent of his reply, but the real answer was more like "Dad, I've already got something I'm not doing. I'm far too busy not picking up my books right now. You're going to have to wait for me to get around to not picking up the stuffed animals. I'll pencil in not picking up the stuffed animals for five-ish, okay?")
"Don't tell me you can't do what I'm telling you to do because you have to do something your mom told you to do that you're not doing. You had your chance to do what your mother said, and you played with your cars instead. Now you're going to do what I said."
"That's not fair!" (note, this is the default answer, whenever a child can't think of a clever retort, then your request is de facto unfair.)
Eventually, he got on board and actually cleaned quite well. We bribed him by telling him if he finished without fussing, we'd allow him to vacuum. He loves to vacuum. Probably because we haven't made it a chore of his. I think I might keep it that way for a while.