It seems only fair to the three baby birds to clarify at this point that it is not as though they have never heard the word "chore" in their lives. They are decently self-sufficient on the basics in their own lives. We do not tie their shoes, we don't do their homework for them and they have, in fact, already performed many of the tasks on the Countdown list (but they could stand to be a bit more proficient). Our kids have always been expected to be helpful when asked. Frankly, we are the ones who have been a little lax on the asking part. Anytime I hear parents lamenting their children's lack of helpfulness, or responsibility, I always want to say, If you want to know who is really to blame, look in the mirror. Which is what I say to myself, too.
Kids will be kids, which means they will be as lazy and self-centered as they are allowed to be. I don't know who those super-human kids are that you see on the Today show who wake up one day and decide, completely without adult intervention or involvement, to sell all of their worldly belongings for the sake of some heartwrenching cause- but they aren't my kids. My kids are just your average, everyday, middle-class American kids. They are polite to adults, well-behaved in school (most of the time), decent to their siblings, 90% respectful of their parents and do not appear to be on track to have a criminal record at any point in their lives. They are good kids, but they are kids. They tend to think more about what they want for themselves than what they can do for others. They will avoid hard work if at all possible unless there is a clear benefit to themselves. They will comply with any direct request/command but rarely feel the need to instigate helpfulness on their own. They are kids.
But, when I have my eyes open to potential and possibilities rather then limitations and lack- I do see many signs of hope that the seeds we hoped to plant are slowly taking root.
You know how there are some basic household tasks that are so mundane, so obvious, that you wonder how it is possible that you still have to remind the young people in your life to do them every single time? Clearing one's dishes is one of those tasks to me. How is it not immediately evident that one should not leave one's plate/bowl/cup/bag of tortilla chips/half-eaten bowl of salsa on the counter for someone else and/or the magic fairies to clear? And, how it is not especially evident when you have been reminded/asked/threatened to clear said items at least a million times before?!?
Well, in the last six months, Timothy has single-handedly begun to restore my sanity on this issue. I'm embarrassed to say that it took me a little while to notice, and he provided no fanfare to his newfound dish discipline, but one day I watched him finish his lunch, pick up his dishes and carefully clear them to the sink. Then, as my jaw fell to the floor, he even asked, Are the dishes dirty or clean? When informed that they were dirty, he placed his dishes in the dishwasher (incorrectly, but I was wise enough to let that go for the moment). And from that point on, I noticed that 99% of the time now he peforms the same mind-blowing routine.
There you go, folks. When they tell you that you will have to teach your kids the same thing several times before they are able to master it, what they really should tell you is that you may have to teach your kids the same thing a million times before they master it- but then they will.
Patience + Perseverence = dirty dishes in the diswasher
Next up: What happens when the dishwasher is full of clean dishes?!?! I'll let you stew on that one for a bit because apparently it's a head scratcher. I know that my kids are completely stumped.