Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ah, Parenting - Part II

Roberto stood across the kitchen from me, angered by the fact that his little brother seems to get away with almost everything because "Well, he's only twelve. Give the kid a break." Roberto understood that there was a lot of learning Brad needed to acquire doing chores without being asked, in fact and that those valuable lessons still needed to be honed. But still.... Brad was taking it for granted, not helping around the house.

My mind began to zoom back in time, to when I was a small part of a large family child. I appreciated the fact that when I was growing up, my parents - purposely or not - allowed me to develop my independence early on. I was allowed to sprout in my own way, freely.

When I was young, I didn't know what chores were. No one told me I had to help around the house because I was part of a unit that needed to maintain some kind of daily rhythm in our lives. Someone did the chores. Someone. Sometimes. Sometimes not.

I didn't think about it at all growing up, but what I realized, what I gained, was that if I wanted something done I just did it myself. I was doing chores, by my own accord, not because they were assigned to me. If I didn't like a messy room, I'd clean it. If the floor needed sweeping I'd sweep. If the garage shelves needed organizing, I'd organize. I didn't do these things because someone told me to. I just did them. Because I wanted to.

I, like my parents, never assigned chores. I just wanted the household to be clean. I liked the independence hey, I think I will add some shine to this house of ours without being asked! I imagined I was instilling in the kids. A desire to want to help out, not because they were told to.

Independent cleaning worked for me as a kid, but as a mom I found that by following my childhood routine it didn't work as a way to teach my children about helping around the house. Helping never happened unless I said something. I just wanted the kids to be like me, to instinctively clean, but that doesn't work when they are waiting to be told what to do.

I know I have always needed to create some structure around our household. A structure where I didn't do it all. As the two older kids grew, into teenagers, they maintained their attitude which equaled mine. They didn't need to help unless they wanted to. And I didn't ask. I have made the mistake of assuming the work will get done. They needed guidance, early on. I needed to give them structure. Tell them what they needed to do to help.

Now, as young adults, and especially having the house to themselves all summer, they more-so-than-ever realize it is a lot of work to maintain the home we live in. They gained an appreciation for me and the effort I am constantly putting forth to provide a reasonably clean-not perfect-but-comfortable home for us.

So, there Roberto was, a bit upset that his brother Brad was just sitting around, without a care in the world, as the dishes seemed to accumulate hourly. Tension was high, with the two boys. All I could think was that "I will take care of it" just itching to wash those food-crusted wares. Yet, as I listened to Roberto's reasoning, his wanting to teach Brad how to help out, I knew I needed to just focus on what he was saying, and allow them to work out some kind of thing that will work for the both of them.

After a bit of needed to get this off my shoulders, Roberto hugged Brad and I goodbye before he left for the night. "I love you both. I love you, Mom. I love you, Brad." Then he was gone.

I walked into the kitchen. Dishes were done. Trash was at the curb. Thanks to Roberto.


He sat at the computer, watching YouTube videos.


  1. This brings back memories for me D. With mixed families, and mixed ways of doing things, there was always a bit of variation in what got done when. Some learned, like you, to do what needed to be done. Others, laid around and did as little as possible, conveniently disappearing just before they were asked to do something, by someone. I like the way you let the older one talk to the younger one about it, it might take awhile, but I would venture to say that his words will eventually stick. He's part of a team... and one day he will realize it :-)

  2. AS the eldest, I must take Roberto's side, but only because you dredge up memories of my little sister. The one who didn't learn to wash a dish until she was, oh I don't know, thirty?
    Sound like your boys are more civilized than we were. :)

  3. yea, gene...
    i too take roberto's side...he's got a valid point... and he is trying to step in for DAD, making sure a firm foot is in place....
    and no, they aren't necessarily civilized.... my writing may be a bit soft...