While the parents are striving for American Dreaming (American Dreaming, by way of the stairs), the kids are dreaming of a way out – a responsibility-free way of life. Apparently, the grass is greener if you you’re living, not on the other side, but on the tracks.
Yesterday, a chore-averse child might have said, “Why do I have to do the dishes AGAIN?!” (This child never strays too far away from drama. And I’m sad to say that for some in our house, the whining never ceases. It might be shorter lived, but never stops.)
“That’s part of living in this house,” I reply, pointing him to the sink.
“I wish I didn’t live in this house.”
“Sorry about that.”
He thinks for a minute then grumps, “I wish I was a hobo!”
A hobo?! Where in the world did he come up with that one. I can’t stop myself and start right into one of my little life lectures on conditions in the life of a hobo. I add the benefits of living in a home, sleeping in a bed, eating a home-made (sometimes delivered) meal, and a few more to which he replies,
“I don’t want to live here!!!”
“Fine … we can arrange something else.”
“No. I don’t want to live somewhere else. I would have to work there, too!”
“Great. Then pitch in.”
“That’s why I want to be a hobo. Then I wouldn’t have to do anything.” The kid stomps off to “BE BY MYSELF!!!!” (Good luck with that in this house… just sayin’.)
His sisters hearing the commotion hop to and handle the dishes and then some. I head back to chat with my budding hobo.
Walking into the room, I turn off the television and begin to introduce him to his dream of the Hobo-Life. “Sorry, kid. Hobos don’t have t.v.’s. You should probably head on outside because hobos don’t live in a house either. … It’s pretty hot out there. If you get thirsty, you’re welcome to drink from the hose, but that’s just for today because hobos don’t have faucets to get water. The home-owner pays for that water. So if you want more, you can put a few dollars through the mail slot and ask if we’re willing to sell you some.”
Mr. Drama thinks for a moment. “I don’t want to be a hobo.” … pause… “I just don’t want to work.”
“Well, that’s part of living in society. You have to work. Everyone has to do things that might not feel like doing. It’s part of life.”
He thinks some more. “I’ll do work if you pay me $5 a day.”
“I’m not paying you $5 a day.”
“$3,” he says.
“No,” I reply.
“No!” My word. Since when did the couch become the bargaining table?
He’s got tenacity. And passion. Let’s hope he uses it to do good in the world. Until then, I hope I can stay the course – with only limited insanity.
I walk back into the kitchen where the girls are finishing up the dishes while working on dinner. “I’m finished!” proudly announced the Dish-Loader.
“Thanks for stepping in,” I reply as I look at the dishwasher where the loading kid had haphazardly put cups and dishes without organizing them, lest the it be completely filled before running a cycle. I fight the urge to turn the other way, and force myself to go the “if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” route. I start to move cups, bowls and plates to free spots as I explain, “If you put the cups here, and turn the bowls this way, see how you can fit everything?…” All while wondering to myself, “haven’t I shown them a million times? Haven’t they done it a million times?” (Hmmm… maybe we know from where the exaggeration seed sprouts.)
I knew my tutorial was a dicey move when I started – especially considering all the hormones flying in that tween/teen/menopausal cesspool of the three of us. But I did it anyway.
The cook then informed me (okay sassed her sister), “She wouldn’t let me help her. I tried to… but she wanted to get credit for doing it all.”
“Yeah … and I thought you would be proud of me,” adds Dish-Loader.
“I am proud of you,” I defend. But it’s too late. Walls up, the kid departs in a bit of a huff. The cook shoots me a oh-yeah-she-went-there look and I can do nothing but sigh.
Maybe the hobo idea isn’t such a bad one after all.
But until then… we might be trying a new tactic. Somewhere along the way, true to form, I’ve let our organized tactics slip. We need to re-introduce a system to keep the kids on track.
Enter Ann Romney’s chore wheel.
I posted this pic on themoatblog Facebook page last week… and still love it. We aren’t trying to be political over here – just appreciate ways to encourage personal responsibility. And who knows better than moms? Anyway, Mrs. Romney recently scoffed when asked about domestic help. With 5 able-bodied children (boys, no less) in their house, they had plenty of helpers – to cook, clean, do the laundry, etc. This is Mitt showing Chris Wallace (Fox News Sunday – The Romneys at Home) how they turn the wheel every day to show who is responsible for each chore when they’re together. It started when their boys were kids and has continued into adulthood, because they still make their grown boys and their respective families pitch in when they get together. Love it!
In our house, it will be dubbed “The Wheel of Fortune” – because of all the richness that comes with meaningful responsibility. I’ll let you know how it goes and if I survive the inevitable eye-roll/whine assault. Until then, I’d love to know what you method you use in your house (if anything) and how it works for you.
Anyway, thanks for walking the road with me. I’m certain it’s better than hobo-riding the rails … right?!
Maybe it depends on the day :)