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Even on my worst days (and not that this is one of those days or anything), I am keenly aware that I have much to be grateful for. My kids have much to be grateful for. We are truly and richly blessed, even if we all gripe too much.
But today is special. This past week, my parents got bicycles for all of my kids. Two of them got brand spanking new ones, and three got refurbished ones from my garage, complete with new paint jobs, tires, chain guards, and whatever else they needed. We get to drive up to Sonoma tomorrow and pick up the two new ones, and then all five will be riding in style.
All week long I've thought about how lucky these kids are. The bikes...the mid-week trip to the beach with dad...the professional soccer game with mom last night...the milkshakes and art classes and shakespeare plays.
So you'll understand if I get a little put off by any sign of complaint or entitlement when I ask them to clean their rooms or do chores. Typically, such behavior is a hot button issue for me. As soon as the whining begins, my rage response kicks in and I go all (figuratively) Jackie Chan on my offspring. It just makes me crazy that after all these years and all those lectures, they still do not help out without hefty doses of bratty behavior.
Don't get me wrong: I know full and well that I am partly to blame for the way they behave. Somewhere along the line, I got it wrong and have been paying the price and trying to fix it ever since. And this morning, I swerved into getting it right.
I announced to the boys that they needed to clean their room, and the vitriol began in earnest. And suddenly, with clarity and calm, I knew exactly what to say.
Guys, here's how I want this to go. I want you to clean up efficiently and without fighting. I don't want it to take all day. I don't want you to act like it's unfair that you have to do this. I want you to think about all the things you have to be grateful for, and then I want you to clean your room with a simple, respectful attitude.
And if you can't do that, then I'm not taking you to Sonoma to pick up your bicycles tomorrow. You have too much to be grateful for to behave badly. And I'm not going to put up with it.
It worked like a charm. Less than 45 minutes later, their room is cleaner than they've ever gotten it, and they didn't fight once with each other or with anyone else.
They'd be good boys if there would be somebody there to buy them a bicycle every minute of their lives. (Not quite Flannery O'Connor, but close...)
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Grandma and Papa, we are all so grateful for your kindness and generosity. I, especially, am grateful for the invaluable gift of leverage.
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