Today’s guest blog is by my friend Katie Feurst. She loves her kids well. When she told me about this story a few weeks ago, I asked her to share it with everyone. In the heat of a morning moment, she realized that it’s not only about teaching kids the importance of pitching in … but it’s also about the way we teach. I really enjoy Katie’s fervor, as well as her art (Fuerst Editions). Here’s to a patient/encouraging rather than Sargent Carter approach.
Thanks, Katie… and thanks for walking the road with me.
every house has a hub. command central. or in some cases ground zero. our kitchen counters are our hub. it is a food-prepping, email-sending, mail-sorting, lunch-packing, dish-washing machine of a room.
this school year, we have two kids of our own and foreign exchange student. our daughter is a multi-tasking, self-sufficient kind of gal. she is the youngest in age but has proven herself – in the event of an emergency she can run this household and manage to get in her 3 daily hours on the trampoline. the two sons (one of whom has been introduced to the hub only recently) are older and knee deep in the teen years.
once the kids leave for school i do a fair amount of work in the kitchen – cooking, working at the computer, painting jobs at the counter (exchange student dwells in my art studio), and dealing with the mountains of paper a household generates. i like the hub clean.
recently, all 3 kids were doing their thing in the kitchen – making lunches, eating breakfast and packing up for their days. i had a lot of work to do that day and i was determined to have them clean up after themselves so i could start my day with clean counters. every smear of jelly was pointed out, every item was told and told again to be returned to its home, and every last crumb was accounted for, by golly, by the time they were out the door to walk or be driven to school. forget the late night one of them had finishing a project, or the slight sniffles one was fighting – this was my time to remind them of what was expected. my wisdom was plenty that morning, “i’m not the one who used the milk – you did – YOU need to put it away”, “who wants to be a room mate with someone who doesn’t put away their dishes?” and then the big guns: “childen, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do”.
when i returned to the house after delivering the last child to school that morning – i walked into the cleanest the kitchen had ever been. SUCCESS! man, it wasn’t an easy road but we got there. those kids will know how to clean a kitchen as they move through their morning! another successful parenting moment!!
then it struck me. my passenger was silent on the drive to school. my son and daughter did not even say goodbye to me as they went out the front door to walk and be carpooled. huh. as i worked in the hub that morning (with its pristine counters!) i started thinking about other counters. how about counting six months from now when this foreign exchange student leaves our home. do i want him to take away the skills of wiping down a kitchen counter (wet paper towel please!)? how about counting four plus years from now when our son goes away to college. will i want him to look back and remember how i taught him how to get the air out of a big bag of chips before you put the chip clip on? and then my daughter – who, Lord willing, will one day be a mom hanging out with her kids in the morning – still multi-tasking like she does now. huh.
so, my mornings look a little differently now. granted, i am never going to get it perfectly and it is important to teach your kids to clean up after themselves. that said, i want my kids to first remember me as a mom who loved them, served them and showed them grace heaped on more grace before they remember my trick to making eggs and hash browns in the same pan (fewer dishes to clean!). because, they can always learn 10-tips-to-a-cleaner-kitchen in a book. as the counter winds down on our mornings together – i want to focus on showing them what they can not learn in a book – my love.
then i was lead to the thought:
i read somewhere (am sorry i can not remember where) – if you are having trouble staying calm and courteous to your kids to pretend they are your visiting nieces and nephews. my sister’s kids stay with us often when they are in town. and if i am telling them to put away their dishes for the second time, i sure don’t ever find myself hollering, “OH MY GOSH! how many times do i have to remind you???” – i dig deep and come up with another polite way to say it. i bet our kids would appreciate the same.