Stuff I learned this year that moved me along the path to growing up…. (cue my daughter singing her favorite song – I won’t grow up….)
1. My kids respond better to direct orders than guilt.
I entered the kitchen and surveyed the mess. Two of the three guilty party were present on laptops at the counter. Dramatically I lamented, “I wonder what time the maid is coming to clean up these dishes….”
Loud sigh from one child and eye roll from the other. Spying the open container of cereal, I smiled and said brightly, “I guess it’s good this cereal has been left open since breakfast, now it can be good and stale, just the way I like it.” I shoved the box back in the cabinet and slammed it closed.
My oldest child, the wise one, yanked the ear buds out, looked at me and said, “You know, if you want me to do something you should just ask.”
All manner of sarcastic retort clamored to be allowed out, but I calmly looked at him and said, “Oh, really?”
“Yeah, it would be better if you just said what you wanted instead of laying all this guilt on us.”
My daughter joined the conversation at this point and added an icy, “Yeah.”
“So, you’re telling me that if I simply ask you to do something, you’re going to do it?” (It was all I could do to point out 18 years of evidence to the contrary.)
“Yeah,” he says. I looked to my daughter, who shrugged.
“Okay…..can you please put away your dishes from this morning?”
Remarkably, both children got up and cleaned up the mess they had left.
I’ve tried to keep his words in mind these past months and miraculously there has been some compliance. I suppose, what he was really asking was that I treat him like the adult he has become and not wield my passive-aggressive weapons of self-esteem destruction. It takes a lot of years for these kids to teach me how to parent.