Saturday morning chores at our house include cleaning bedrooms and the downstairs bathroom together. Not that bad, really. However, my seven year old fights it tooth and nail. I do my best to encourage him and help without doing it for him. Today was one of those days where I got in there with him to get it done. He did a little then moped and complained and counter-acted things I was doing. Finally, I told him he had five minutes to put away anything he wanted to keep, then I would come in and have free reign to organize or throw away what was left.
I walked upstairs to clean the kitchen, simply frustrated over his stubbornness and our lack of accomplishment. How do we move beyond allowing twenty minutes of work to turn into a full day affair or one where he doesn't have the opportunity to succeed?
As I unloaded the dishwasher the words of Sally Clarkson came to me that I had just read yesterday on her blog. She wrote, "...all homes have seasons and it is the faithfulness through all of the seasons that determines the outcomes."
I thought about that. I may be frustrated but how I see this this through will determine the outcome. I still didn't have an answer, but my frustration sub-sided a little.
Robby came upstairs shortly after, "You have to help me, mom."
"I'm sorry, but my energy is drained," I respond. "I simply have none left to help you."
"Hmph!" he grunts with a stomp of the foot and cross of the arms.
I continue to do dishes.
He walks over to a small note pad and draws a "no" symbol, walks over and puts it in my pocket then goes to draw another one.
"What's this?" I chuckle. "Are you protesting against mom?"
He chuckles then brings another one over.
I chuckle some more. "Are you banning mom because I'm so mean?" He chuckles. I tickle his side. "Are you banning mom because I make you work sooo hard?" He chuckles. "Okay, that's fair," I concede, "you can protest. But, I'm not relenting."
"Hmph," he pouts with a stomp of the foot and a little smirk. "Well, I'm not either!"
"Okay." I respond. "Alexa, go get dressed now. I'm ready to go to the dollar store."
"Okay," agrees Alexa.
"Yay! We get to go to the dollar store!" exclaims Robby.
"Oh, I'm sorry Robby but I won't be taking you to the dollar store, " I reply.
"But, I earned my ten crystals (glass rocks we use for a point reward system throughout the weeks)!"
"Yes, honey, but you banned me as mom today."
"Oh. Well. Okay, I relent."
"Yes. Can I go to the dollar store now?"
"Yes, after you clean your room."
"But, I don't want to clean my room!"
"Well, then you really haven't surrendered, have you?"
He then gets a little encouragement from his dad.
"Well, if I go clean my room now, will you wait for me?"
"Yes," I agree.
His room was in great shape in under ten minutes. Then we cleaned the bathroom. Then we all went to the dollar store.
I tell ya what. Being a parent takes some serious creativity. And ya know what else? Creativity doesn't really flow well when we're mad.
Is this a formula? Nope. This is one of those ways in which parenting is an art, not a science. But I sure am grateful it worked...
and mom is still mom.
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