Depending on the advice, I choose to listen or ignore them. I say ‘no’ to Mary as often as possible and I make Gabe do his worksheeets, but I’m also smart enough now that I don’t want or expect them to be superstars. And besides, the little ones may have more toys but the older ones had more trips to the park and days at the zoo.
Still, I couldn’t argue that with Gabe’s 8th birthday looming next week it was time for him to take on dish duty.
Our chore chart has evolved over the years from the lofty goals of ‘put away shoes’ and ‘go in potty’ (hey, those seemed almost unattainable at the time) to a lovely graph that maps out the dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, practicing, laundry and bathroom cleaning duties of the day. Truth is, 1/2 the jobs get ignored every day (especially bathrooms- you are not invited to my upstairs bathrooms) but dishes are impossible to ignore. They pile up all day long: pots, plates, cups, silverware, bread pans, measuring spoons. We cook a lot and dirty almost every plate, pot, cup and spoon every single day.
I don’t move kids into the dish rotation until they are over seven. Washing requires a certain amount of height, strength and knowledge of what can go in the washer and what can’t (and our dishwasher is weak; you’ve gotta scrub every speck of food off those plates). When Xander took his place at the sink a few years ago it was traumatic for the whole family. Every 4th week when the chart put the X-man on washing, Erik and I would look at each other and know we were in for a week of pain. Xander is practically perfect in every way, but he groaned and whined and ‘forgot’. It took nearly a year for him to settle into a sudsy groove.
And Gabriel, while angelic, has never gained a reputation for industry. Xander usually ends up putting away most of his laundry and cleaning 90% of the room they share (see Xander, I redeemed your reputation). I think Gabe is planning to get through life on dimples and charm. And it just may work in the rest of the world– but not here.
So with much trepidation, I created an all new chore chart with Gabriel on dish duty. Monday, I steeled myself for much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth as I instructed him on sorting and washing and putting elbow grease into the pots. He certainly balked at the dried oatmeal and asked repeatedly, “How can one family use so many dishes?” Trust me baby boy, I’ve often wondered that myself.
But when I stood back, I saw something I didn’t expect: PRIDE.
He was ready and able and proud to join the ranks of scullery boys.
Maybe those older boys do know a few things.
p.p.s. I know his hair is killing you, Ashli, I’ll send him over for a trim.