"Robby, you are on top of it! I am impressed!" I respond.
He has done this three weeks in a row now and I think I'm beginning to see a little blossom.
He comes toward me with open arms, "Ya," he chuckles, "remember when I would have so much to clean up that I would just sit in the middle of it and do nothing?"
Sure, given that was just in the last months and since he was about four.
"Do you think we expected a little too much of you when we required you to clean your whole room by yourself when you were just four and five years old?" my cheek to his.
"Ya," he chuckles again.
He's eight and I'm beginning to think age eight is that season where our children are ready for so much more on their own because, developmentally, they can reason through things much more maturely.
"Well we have the pleasure of learning through you, our first born, because otherwise, we just don't know sometimes."
It's like God built him specifically for that.
We head downstairs to inspect his work. I enter the spacious room with tracked taupe carpet. "Your room looks great, Robby! Now it just needs to be vacuumed."
"I don't want to vaccuum it," his sinful nature chimes in, "I don't like to. You do it."
"Well, you know, I don't really like to vaccuum either," I gently retaliate.
"You're right. You have to vaacuum the whole house. I'll do it."
I've never heard that sort of reason and concern for others in him like this, when it comes to work he really doesn't want to do. ever. until now.
The truth is, in the past, we have helped him through cleaning his room on a number of occasions. We've seen that, otherwise, it would not get done in spite of our strategic tactics for compliance, yet not without frustration along the way. But we've learned that at four and five, even six and seven, they are not quite capable of all that we expect them to do on their own. We seem to expect more of them, at early ages, than possibly they are capable of achieving developmentally, socially, and emotionally by design. Yet, we've easily ignored that knowledge. We've seen how they get overwhelmed and shut down. And still, we expect them to do their small part - like we're rushing the seasons - because we simply don't have the time, availability or maybe the energy to walk along side and nurture them where they are at. We do it because we expect them to be responsible and thoughtful and when they don't succeed, we blame laziness and irresponsibility.
But who are we kidding? We expect it because we get overwhelmed and we have our own tasks that take priority.
We've planted the seed and now we want results. Yet, the seed still needs attending to.
Although it is true that our children are physically capable of responsibility at earlier ages, how are we helping them succeed? I believe that, emotionally and even socially, the confidence and ability to succeed is built upon loving, on-going, side-by-side nurturing and training throughout these formative years.
Could this be a motto that applies to areas broader than household chores?
We do things a little differently with the younger three. We don't just show them how to take on a responsibility and expect them to have it mastered by the second or third try. In the same way we can't plant a seed, water it a few random times and expect it to thrive. We walk with them through their tasks, their struggles, and triumphs and slowly give them more and more responsibility and independence as they succeed - all the while present to them. We understand they are in continual training while under our roof. They don't have to have it all mastered by five. really.
Like a bud, which opens in time with good soil, the right amount of sunlight, and plenty of moisture, we nurture them continually into each season of bloom.
Counting gifts of gratitude with Ann today:
children playing together with vivid imagination
a date with my oldest
steak and hard conversation with my man
my man, a constant support in my life
the friends who lift me up:the friend who prays with me
the friend who memorizes scripture with me
the group of friends who meet monthly with me over food and fellowship
the distant friends
the friends right here
Also sharing with Finding Heaven, A Pause on the Path, Seedlings in Stone, The Wellspring, Raising Arrows, The Modest Mom, and The Better Mom