This afternoon I raked leaves into a pile, so my children could jump in them. As I sweated in the unusual November heat, I looked over at my son. He was sitting on a nearby rock eating a popsicle and watching me. When he saw me pause in my activity, he immediately gestured behind me and called, “Mom! You missed some!”
Some days, despite my implementation of chores and my animated lectures on responsibility, I feel like my two children think they are my little bosses, ordering me about here and there.
Here are just a few of the most recent signs indicating that my children think I work for them:
1. One of my children’s favorite games to play involves them sitting on the deck and calling through the open screen door, “Happy Meal girl, bring me lunch!” They pretend they are at the McDonald’s drive-thru window ordering food. As I work in the kitchen, I hear demands like, “One peanut butter and jelly, one bologna, and two chocolate milks!” They even try to “return” their food if they don’t like it!
2. During dinner one night, I told my son to lean over his plate as meat tumbled out of his taco shell onto the floor. He looked at me, confused, and asked, “Why?” He then shoved more taco into his mouth, smiled, and stated matter-of-factly, “That’s okay. You can just sweep it up if it falls on the floor.”
3. The other day my daughter dropped her cup of milk on the floor. As I was on my hands and knees wiping up the mess, she stood over me and proclaimed in a happy voice, “Mom, you are just like Cinderella!”
4. My son recently started to understand the concept that people have jobs to earn money and that money is used to buy things you need or want. He now spends his days counting little piles of coins he leaves around the house. (He is either turning into Scrooge McDuck or entertaining a career in finance). Well, the other evening I told him to go clean his room before he could eat a snack. He moaned and whined for a good bit before I eventually entered his room to help him finish the task. After we walked out of his clean(ish) room to get an apple, he handed me a dime and smiled, “Here. Good work!”
Oh, this parenting thing is hard. It is a continual battle of wanting to do everything for your children to make them happy and to make their lives easier, but simultaneously realizing that you have to teach them to find their own happiness and to do things for themselves – even when it’s hard.
I’m sure there is a happy medium. But, not today. Today, I handed the rake to my son, jumped in the pile of leaves, and told my kids to make their own pile. This worker needed a break.