The Upside of Chores
Chores are good.
I've been neglecting our chore chart for months. I'm sure the kids are thrilled about this, but I really must get back to basics. Especially with summer beating down my door, I am aware that I really need to give the chores their proper due and a proper routine.
It's not that my kids do nothing; it's just that without that chore chart, what they do is haphazard and inconsistent. I have to make it up every day, and I have to put way too much thought into who is doing what and who did what last time.
All of this will be addressed with a good chore chart.
But I happily discovered another positive side effect of chores the other night. I taught my oldest how to wash dishes. Some of you may not be aware that in addition to having five children, I do NOT have a dishwasher. (Would that then be in subtraction to having five children? Since I don't actually have a dishwasher to add to the kid count?) So you might think that just having someone else wash the dishes is a positive enough effect. And it was indeed very very gratifying to have clean dishes that I did not, in fact, clean. But the real up side of having Sam wash the dishes is the conversation we had while he was standing at the sink, up to his elbows in soapy suds.
We talked about school, his teacher, his challenging year in 4th grade. We talked about bullies, and his classmates, and his reputation for being "too sensitive." We talked about his mom and dad. We talked. It was lovely.
And in the course of the conversation, he asked me what I struggle with. He asked me what his dad struggles with. Here's the thing we have to remember as parents: kids hear what we say, even if they act like they don't. They remember what we say, long after we have forgetten ourselves.
At least 5 years ago, probably more like 6 or 7, Sam and I had a series of conversations about how everyone struggles with something. This came from something he was having a hard time with, something that made him feel like he was the only person in the world to experience hardship. I talked and talked, and didn't think he was really listening. He never asked me anything about that particular idea, that everyone struggles with something. I had no idea it "stuck," so to speak.
But here we are, years later, and he remembers. And now is when he is ready to talk about it, and now is when he has questions. When he asked about his parents' unique struggles, he reminded me: "Because you told me, Mom, that everyone struggles with something."
We talked awhile about struggle, how to handle it, what it means, what courage actually is, and many other things.
If not for my redoubled effort to organize our family chores, I might not have had this conversation and learned so much about him and about being a mom.
Chores are good; conversations are even better.
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