I may not be a total failure yet! There’s hope!
* Doin a little dance *
Tonight I came home from my day to a house that needed my attention desperately. I had dishes piled in the sink, trash overflowing in it’s can, tons of picking up to do, never mind the other cleaning that was demanding my muscles. But I was pooped. I looked at it all and walked in the opposite direction. I went to the back of the house, flopped on the bed, and began chatting with my 12 year old daughter about her day instead. I figured that needed my attention just as much.
Out of the corner of my ear, the tiny part that was not filled with listening to the consistent chatter of Lins, I heard the clatter of dishes. Specifically it was the clatter of dishes leaving the clean dishwasher. I smiled to myself and was happy my kiddo was doing chores without being asked. Nice. I turned my attention back to Lindsey and her relay of the day’s events. Almost like a cat who’s focus is forward, but hears something behind, my ears tuned back to the kitchen as I heard dirty dishes leaving my sink and filling the empty dishwasher. Now that may not seem huge, but in our house one daughter will empty and one will fill the dishwasher – and they ALWAYS make sure the other sister does her share! No one ever volunteers to do their siblings chores!
But Alli wasn’t done yet. She cleaned the counters and wiped off the table. She took out the trash. She not only noticed it was overloaded, but she DID something about it. She swept the floor and put things away. She moved on to the Living room and she picked it up, arranged pillows on the couch, and put coats away. She THEN went to her room, made her bed, picked it up and vacuumed it. You must understand that simply picking it up can take an entire Saturday because she is unmotivated to do it! But was she done after all this? NO! She scurried into the bathroom where she washed down counter, mirror, and stool. She swept the floor, picked up towels, and put clothes in the hamper.
Alli – my 10 year old – cleaned and did ALL the chores. Not only hers, her brother and sister’s, but mine too! I only had to make dinner! I honestly wanted to just cry. Instead I grinned ear to ear, hugged her, and gave her the Friday allowance she had not received in weeks due to zero effort lately.
Somewhere, amongst the cobwebs, a tiny seed fell on fertile soil and initiative took root in my daughter! Oh she has helped out, unasked, before… but never to this extent. Never with this much gusto and muscle power. She did all this inside of an hour and a half. She put power behind the effort, and she had no clue she would receive anything for her efforts but a smile from me. So she wasn’t even motivated by what she’d be receiving per se.
Just last week she showed glimmers of this maturity as well. She shoveled the driveway and the sidewalks after many inches of snow had fallen. We knew she was being helpful, but also that she wanted to be out in the snow. We weren’t entirely sure of her true motivation but gladly took her efforts. We rewarded her with a favorite Hot Cocoa as a treat. We were proud then, but it is obvious that she has turned a corner. She’s seeing what needs done and doing it because she’s a member of this family… not simply because things were assigned to her as a chore or job.
Maybe I am getting something right in this whole parenting thing after all. Somedays I really do wonder! More than I like to admit, I beat myself up, sure I have completely screwed my kids up for life. But tonight I can see a glimmer of what’s to come. The seed will grow stronger over time and will sprout into a full grown plant.
Sorry if I’ve bored you with my rambling. I will come to an end with this last awed accolade…
Alli girl, you are awesome. Thanks for helping your mom out tonight. Thanks for loving me enough to pitch in and for being so grown up at 10 years old. I am so proud of you!