Thursday, January 28, 2016

Teaching Our Children Initiative So They Don't Die

I got sick.  So did Derek.  At this point we're both recovering, as we fell like dominoes, one sick right after the other, but man, it's been a rough few days.

The result of our periods of overlapping illness was that, yesterday morning, when I emerged from my stupor better-ish, but still shaky on my pins, the house was a rat hole.  You know all that stuff I just posted about how much I love to watch our children do chores?  Well, it turns out they only do those things if I'm there to play Chore Maestro.

To be fair, Adelaide mostly took care of her own stuff, such as cleaning up her own dishes, hanging up her wet snow gear, etc, and Atticus wasn't completely disgusting, but Caedmon?  He had the nerve to act like a five-year-old boy with little adult supervision *clears throat* which, I suppose is exactly what he was, but still.

As a result, starting yesterday afternoon we began discussing initiative.  Initiative, as I lectured told my precious sacks of filth darlings is seeing that something needs to be done and then doing that thing.  It's going to throw a container of yogurt away, seeing that the trash can is nearly overflowing with refuse, and not carefully perching the container on top of the pile, nay! but rather, pulling on the magic strings of draw that are so handily built into the top seam of the trash bag, hoisting it out, and taking it out to the dumpster.  It's getting one leftover enchilada out of the container for your supper, then putting the remaining enchiladas back into that big white thing with cold insides that keeps food delightfully fresh for so long, rather than leaving the dish of meat and cheese out on the counter to rot.

We're starting small, as I soon realized that our boys don't even seem to see when some things need to be done.  So I'm pretending they're troglodytes- not much of a stretch today, friends- and leading them gently around the house, adding extra sarcasm-infused syrup to my voice as I ask, "And what is this, sweet boys?  That's right, it is a bowl!  Very good, boys!  And what is in this bowl, sons of mine?  Why, I don't know what it is, either!  Sometimes it's hard to identify food when it's been sitting out for two days, so don't feel bad.  Now, here is the important part, future men of the world (GOD HELP US ALL):  [Insert highly detailed instructions of a simple procedure including water and a sink that I will not put you through].  Now, who can repeat what I just said?"

Just eating my lunch with a wooden spoon because every other piece of silverware was dirty and our children didn't ever see that as a problem.
We have done the same thing with the toilet, with hats and mittens, with snow boots, with the trash can, and on, and on, and on.  Today I'm noodling over what kind of system to put in place (chore chart?  But I don't really like those or think they work that well.  Jar that we fill with stuff or take away from that I'm pretty sure I saw on Pinterest?  I just don't know yet.), that, most importantly, I can follow through on, because in general, the more complicated and labor-intensive a system is for me, the more likely I am to abandon it/throw it against a wall until it shatters in a highly satisfying way.

I don't really have short-term specific goals for this, either, but if I did they'd probably fall between "takes out the trash without being asked" and me no longer having to scrub around the base of the toilet while quietly singing Janet Jackson's Nasty to myself with increasing hysteria.  Somewhere in there.

1 comment:

  1. I am sorry you got sick. I hope you are truly on the mend.

    I am stuck on "the magic strings of draw" - laughed my head off!

    Let's see. I had no good system. I forced my children to take their dirty dishes to the sink. And that is as far as it ever got. They could not and still can't EVEN BOTHER to RUN THE WATER in the dirty dish so that it would be easy for THE DISH FAIRY to clean later. Put the dirty dish in the dishwasher? Are you kidding?

    We had a "dinner chore" chart, with no incentives other than Momma gonna look at you sternly if you don't do your chore. But still, getting the task to be done required asking again. Or pointing to the chore chart - "See? It's your night to sweep the kitchen after dinner."

    From what I observe in some other families, just getting the kids to take their dishes to the sink is a big accomplishment.

    One thing I tried was to call them down from upstairs to turn off the light, (or put the food away, or MY GOD close the front door, or, or, or), even though I was standing right there, and could easily have done it. That seemed to be moderately effective, as far as it went.

    I try to tell myself that it is enough to raise one's children to be reasonably kind people who do their math homework (when asked).

    Okay, I am finished. Thank you for listening.


Studies show that that people who leave comments are kind, intelligent, generous, creative, and have really nice hair.