Sometimes getting my children to do actual work is harder than just doing it myself. I have three kids. I know this for a fact.
I fight with them every day about every single thing. I fight them to put their clothing in the actual hamper. I fight with them to do homework, put their dishes in the sink, pick up their crap, and… well you get the idea… Listen, I fight with my children a lot.
But I must say, right now, my three children are ages 5, 9, and 12. The younger two, wow… It’s just painful to get them to do anything. But the 12-year-old, there are moments of sunshine that really make me realize why I had kids.
For example, I hate mowing the lawn.
I’ve always hated it, even when I was 12, and it became my family job. This summer, I showed my son how to mow the lawn, and let me just say, I hope he never becomes a barber.
ALL summer he said things like, “I’ll do it later” and “No one cares if our lawn is mowed, anyway” and “This is so stupid.”
He ran over his own football and stopped mowing to ask me to buy him a new football.
He hit a rock and told me that the lawnmower wasn’t safe anymore and he needed to stop using it and play Roblox.
He asked to take 800 million breaks with each mowing.
He said he couldn’t get the mower between the flowerbeds, and when I demonstrated to him how he could, he rolled his eyes so hard our clocks lost one hour.
He didn’t pick up all the dog poop, hit a pile, and some of it splattered on him. Then he insisted that he DIDN’T need a shower.
Each Saturday I fought with him to get his little butt out there to mow the lawn.
I made him go back out and fix spots and I questioned if it was all worth it. I dreaded each mowing almost more than I dread mowing the lawn myself because of these weekly battles.
In so many ways it would have been easier for me to do it myself. You’ve been there, I know it. All parents have.
But then, there was this moment last weekend where he went out and mowed the lawn without me asking him. I don’t know if he’d given up the fight. I don’t know if he’d finally decided that it wasn’t worth it anymore. Perhaps I broke his spirits and he realized that I was not going to give up on this.
He didn’t complain. He didn’t skip parts of the lawn, literally cutting corners on his job. He just did it the way I asked him too.
And right in the middle of that amazing moment, I kid you not, I sat on a porch chair eating ice cream and watched my 12-year-old son mown the lawn. It was the most rewarding moment of my adult life.
This was it. This was what I’d worked so hard to achieve with him, and I savored each spoon full of that sweet cookies and cream.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it might be getting your child to do the dishes, or the laundry, or mop, or clean the van.
Whatever the chore is that you hate with a passion, so you passed it off to your child, hopeful that you won’t have to do it anymore, you will eventually get to that sweet spot.
I want you to realize that all the fighting, all the yelling and dragging your child out to do it will one day be worth it.
Each time they looked at you like you were the worst human in the history of humans, well… it can actually pay off.
Now listen, I don’t want you to feel like a failure if your child is still digging in their heels.
And I don’t want you to feel like a bad parent if your child never actually stops fighting, because I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going to happen with my middle daughter. She’s about as stubborn as an oak tree. But what I will say is that it can work out, and when it does, it’s probably the best feeling in the history of parenting.
As I ate that ice cream, my son turned around and we made eye contact. I raised my bowl in cheers, and he screamed over the mower “I want some ice cream!”
I winked at him, and screamed, “Once you’re done.”
Obviously I was in the mood to celebrate.