Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Parents all know the routine: allowing toddlers to "help" when all they are doing is making more work. Making bigger kids do chores, despite their whining, when it would be easier to just do it yourself, because they need to learn to work even when they don't feel like it. By age ten or so, most kids are capable of doing a simple chore or helping with a bigger one in a way that actually reduces your workload somewhat, even if they do complain about it.

Goldilocks has had trouble sleeping lately. Actually, he always has trouble sleeping. He takes medication to help him fall asleep at night, but he's still usually up around midnight. He usually goes to the couch, and sometimes goes back to sleep, but lately he wants to stay up, and he wants company. The other night, he was up at 3 a.m., screaming at his brother to get up and play with him. When he gets up in the night and can't or won't settle himself, Mama Bear usually gets up and tries to settle him. It's not fair, because she has to be up early for work, but she is a light sleeper. I may have trouble falling asleep, but once I'm out, it takes a lot to wake me. I keep telling her to get me up when he wakes her, so she can get some sleep, but she usually doesn't. It's a mom thing.

Monday night is a late night for us because of Civil Air Patrol, so I try to let Brother Bear sleep in Tuesday mornings. Otherwise we have two grumpy cubs. This morning Goldilocks was up at five, demanding attention. Mama woke me. I went and cuddled on the couch with him. He cuddled for a while, then went and played with his Leap Pad. He seemed content as long as I stayed in the room with him, so I dozed on the couch until six, when Mama had to get up and get ready for work. Then he started yelling for his brother.

We'd has two or three inches of snow overnight, so I decided to go out and shovel and take him with me, so he wouldn't wake his brother. He yelled and screamed the whole time, but he pushed the shovel up and down the middle of the sidewalk, scraping an irregular path. He didn't shovel the length or width of the sidewalk, or even clear all the snow from the strip he did shovel but, for the first time in nearly fourteen years, he shoveled snow from the sidewalk onto the lawn, instead of the other way around! When I came to the part he had shoveled, there was actually less snow! For the first time in his life, he did a chore in a way that actually saved me some work! His "help" actually helped!

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Blogger Big Daddy Autism said...

I'm still waiting for my boy to do a chore that actually saves me some time / work. That's awesome.

December 21, 2010 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Arby said...

Nicely handled, dad! And your line, "for the first time in nearly fourteen years, he shoveled snow from the sidewalk onto the lawn, instead of the other way around," is funny!

December 21, 2010 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

@Big Daddy: GL and Griffin are about the same age, so there's hope!

@Arby: It's only funny if you live in Kansas, or someplace that gets less snow than we do!

December 21, 2010 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger lebelinoz said...

Good job. I'm always trying to get my 7-year-old to do stuff. So you're saying: if I keep trying, I may get it right in another seven years.

December 22, 2010 at 2:15 AM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

When I was a kid, I always had to take the trash out, because that's the oldest son's job. I have two brothers and three sisters, but somehow they could never do it, because it was the oldest son's job. I don't know who took out the trash once I moved out, because there was no oldest son to do the job. I think my dad got stuck with the chore.

My mother won't pump her own gas because that's a man's job. If her car is low on gas, she won't go anywhere until Dad fills it for her. My wife thinks this is silly, but when we were first married, she wouldn't take out the trash because that's the man's job. I don't know who took out the trash when she was single and lived with a female roommate. Maybe one of them called Daddy to do it?

I resolved that ALL my kids would learn to take out the trash and pick up after themselves. Number one son didn't have the coordination, so number two son learned to do it first. Number one son eventually learned to do it with verbal prompts at every step. I am working on fading those prompts. Number two son now loads and unloads the dishwasher, washes the hand-wash dishes, and folds and puts away his and his brother's laundry, tasks that are still beyond number one son's capabilities. So year after year, I supervise number one son's taking out the garbage, even though it would be less work to do it myself, because he needs a job, this is one he can learn, and because I have a dream that someday he will take out the garbage all by himself!

December 22, 2010 at 9:46 AM  

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