Do Not Teach Children To Help Out Around the House. Bad Things Happen

Ever feel like you're the only one in your family who cleans up?  The only one who keeps things running smoothly?  The only one who replaces the toilet paper roll, puts folded towels in the linen closet, keeps things in their rightful places?

Is so, consider yourself lucky.

I fell into the trap of trying to teach my kids responsibility, of trying to instill in them a sense of cooperation, of trying to make them human.  Big mistake.  Here are two cautionary tales from my botched attempt to get some help around the house.

Tale #1: When Other People Clean, You Will Be Late

I recently re-instituted the simple idea of straightening up the common areas every evening.  We've been in this habit before, but have fallen woefully out of it, so I felt it was important to whip us back into shape.  The result?  We all went to bed in a clean house.  Mostly.  The other result?  The next morning, as we were trying to get out the door to school, I could not find my purse anywhere.  I looked high, and low, and in between.  I re-looked everywhere I could think of, in all of the places I've been known to put it.  I riffled through two laundry baskets twice, thinking it might have gotten tangled up with the clean underwear and towels.

Bordering on hyesteria, I sent the kids -- who were no help whatsoever -- out to the car to wait for me.  I searched in vain for another 5 or 10 minutes.  And then I remembered that we all cleaned up the night before.  I marched out to the car and said through clenched teeth: "Does anyone remember moving my white bag with the black flowers on it last night when we were cleaning up????"

Lady E: "OH!  YES!  I know where it is...but don't be mad!  I was cleaning, and I grabbed it off the dining room table, and I had a bunch of other stuff in my hands, and then I went up to my room and started doing something else, so I think it's on the doll crib in the corner!"

10 minutes late to school because I had the kids clean up the house the night before.

Tale #2: When Other People Help, Your Head Might Explode

Little T is finally catching on to the idea of helping.  So in the midst of the clean-up flurry the other night (same night as referenced above), she offered brightly: "Mommy, do you want me to bring in the towels from outside?"  Why yes, I thought!  That would be great, and I had forgotten that I had put them outside in the sun to dry earlier that morning.  Fantastic, sweetie: great idea.  Out she went, and back in she marched, arms full of sun-dried towels.  I told her to put them on the basket of clean laundry.

The next morning, I grabbed one of those towels for my shower.  I was taking a very late shower, one I wasn't even sure I had time for, and this was before I started looking for my purse.  I took my quick shower, jumped out, grabbed my towel, and started vigorously rubbing my hair and shoulders, aware that I had mere moments to get ready and still get the kids to school on time.  The towel was a little crunchy.  For a few seconds, this didn't bother me: sun dried towels usually are.

But then, I looked a little closer, and realized that in addition to the clean towels, Little T had also grabbed the towel someone put outside a month ago for cleaning off the chalkboards during the garden tour.  This towel was crunchy and chalk-dusty, and I had just rubbed it all over my head.  I now smelled chalky, felt gritty, and was in danger of having my head explode, all within 60 seconds of getting out of the shower.  With no time left to take another one.

These two tales illustrate why wise mothers say: "It's just easier to do it myself."

I don't care if my kids are lazy, entitled loafers who expect other people to do everything for them.  I'd rather arrive places clean and on time, thank you very much.

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Sandy said…
Crunchy towels - made me spit coffee! Thanks for the laugh....

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