Originally published 05/18/2012
I think we all learn best from our mistakes, so I should pretty much be a genius! Now, I've been a parent for over 20 years now, so I've had a chance to make quite a few mistakes. Every day. Looking back (and forward) I can think of one really huge mistake that I am still trying to recover from. If you don't want to make that same mistake, read on...
Okay, enough suspense, what is this terrible mistake? Well, it comes from teaching my older kids how to help our around here really well. How can that be a mistake? The problem is that because my two oldest boys were, in fact, the two oldest boys, I pretty much always called on them when I needed something. So did Sane Man. When my oldest was nine he could pretty much do everything around here I could do, and in some cases probably better! He seriously once painted a room all by himself when he was only about six. Now my son Baber, 8, complains when I ask him to clear the table!
The mistake was not training the next two boys in the same way we trained the two oldest. Why didn't we? Why would we? It was much easier to ask one of the two older boys to do something they could already do, than start from scratch with the third or fourth. So zoom ahead to the present and my two oldest are in college and will pretty much do whatever I tell them. The next two are 16 and 17 and it's more of a chore to get them to do something, than it is to do it myself.
So what about the next four kiddos? Am I making the same mistake with them? No way! I have learned my lesson well. My four youngest kids now do pretty much all of the daily chores around here. Princess, 14, is in charge of cleaning the living room and dining room. Dode Man, 12, makes my bed, sweeps the kitchen floor and back landing, takes out the trash, wipes down the appliances and one of the kitchen counters, and cleans up after the dog. Bear, 11, does two loads of laundry, cleans the bathroom, and wipes down the oven top. Baber, 8, though he complains about it, gets the dog food and water, clears the table, makes sure my nightstand is clear, and shakes out the rug in my room.
I know we have failed my third and fourth sons by not giving them nearly as much responsibility as the other kids. They will have to learn it the hard way. Right now they think they got off easy, but I know better. I couldn't believe it when I complained to my own mother that she never made me cook or do laundry. I can't go back into time to change the way things were, but at least I can pass on my advice to you! Put that second, third, or fourth child to work! It may take you a little while longer to get things done now, but it will pay off in the future!
Happy child training!