I adored this latest submission in our ‘Parenting Styles’ series- because this is TOTALLY me!
It’s taken a long, long, LONG time but I’ve finally realized that being such a big believer in teaching my kids to do for themselves means that it’s not going to be done up to my standards. And that’s ok. In fact it’s as it should be.
I’ve finally realized it, but living it and being cool with it is something I’m still working on. Every. Single. Day. The struggle is real people.
Here’s Jessica with her story…
My oldest son is many wonderful things – smart and funny and kind with a big heart. He’s a great athlete, with a brown belt in martial arts and a cool head and quick feet on the soccer field. But for a kid who doesn’t do much sitting around, he can be infuriatingly lazy when it comes to chores.
We don’t pay any of our kiddos to do stuff around the house. We all live here, so we all pitch in to keep things tidy. And no one pays me to vacuum or cook.
Our two oldest – nine and seven – are expected to make their beds in the mornings, put away their clean and folded laundry, make sure their dirty clothes make it to the hamper, put away their shoes and hats and backpacks, clear their plates, and generally tidy up after themselves.
Our oldest is also in charge of feeding the dogs. And the thing is, after he’s been reminded once (or twice, or three times), he does everything he should. He just does it all so badly. And I’m pretty sure it’s kind of on purpose.
So yeah, his bed is made. But unlike his seven year old sister’s bed, where she’s fluffed her duvet and folded it back just so, with her pillow plumped and centered, he spends about six seconds yanking his blanket up to cover his lumpy pillow and the zillion stuffed animals he still insists on sleeping with.
And okay, after a few reminders, he’ll drag himself into the garage to fill the dogs’ bowls. But he’s such a slob about it, leaving a trail of dog food and the lid partially ajar, even though we’ve told him over and over that we’ll end up with mice. Again.
He hoards clothes on his top bunk, finally tossing everything down the stairs toward the laundry room when the pile is getting in his way.
And he’ll tidy things up when I ask him to, putting away toys or shoes or whatever, but it’s as haphazard and sloppy as it is when his little brother does it.
Meanwhile, my inner clean freak is screaming to just fix his lumpy duvet, clear out all that laundry, organize his drawers to meet my KonMari folding standards (yes, I am insane), and feed the dogs myself so we don’t have the guilt trip that is setting out mice traps.
But my intellectual side stops me. Because this is a battle of wills, and damn it, he’s going to learn to be tidy if it kills me.
And when I point it out, he’s quick to acknowledge that he’s been lazy. He’ll nod his head and give me an apologetic, shamefaced “yeah” when I tell him he knows not to throw his empty yogurt cup and spoon into the sink.
My son is bright, and he’s a hard worker when he cares about something. But he does not care in the slightest about the state of his bed, or laundry, or making sure the lid is put back on the dog food tightly.
Actually, I think I’ve sorted out the last issue by pointing out that if mice get into the dog food, it could make them sick. I mentioned it casually when he brought the bowls in last week, and his head whipped right around.
“Be right back,” he said, heading back to the garage.
He has a strong conscience, and I’ve seen it in action before, so I think that’s going to work out brilliantly.
If only I could figure out a victim for his messy bed and the laundry situation – besides me.
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