Recently, I made the brave move to enter the bathroom that my children use. Admittedly, I didn’t have the things I should have brought: Respirator, biohazard suit, supplemental oxygen etc, so I was unprepared for what I saw. However, considering the entire bathroom had been cleaned from top to bottom less than three days prior, I was confused.
My eleven year old has reached that *darling* stage of the tween years when “The Mouth” shows up. It’s like a squirrel that keeps trying to get to the bird feeder, no matter how many obstacles you throw up at it, it still manages to keep at it. Heck, I was researching some spells from my Harry Potter book collection to see if any of them would work. It’s like there was a horcrux in her room and it was affecting her ability to be nice…EVER…to anyone.
So, when the time came for me to suggest that she pick up the clothes off her floor and place them in the hamper she said, “Why can’t you do it?” Oh. No. You. Didn’t. Flabbergasted and exasperated I kind of raised my voice and said, “Why? Because I am not the maid!” (out of my mouth popped my mother) She wound up losing her technology for the rest of the night and the clothes were picked up. I received the death look, the “Tween Glare of Hatred” for the rest of the evening. I felt like absolutely nothing was accomplished. We were both angry and the issue wasn’t resolved. It was FORCED to happen with threats and punishment.
On the flip side, my son is 18. Autistic like his younger sister, he has taken on the world with a surprising, yet refreshing enthusiasm that I feel vindicated about. I’ve been out in public and he’s been recognized from his job and I get compliments about “what a wonderful young man he is” and “you should be proud”. So, I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He washes his own work clothes and even cleans his own room, because he enjoys it when it’s clean. He does chores and helps me out, even though I still have to prod him a bit. At least I don’t have to lock his Xbox up in my room anymore and barricade myself in my bedroom to deflect hurled objects (sadly that is factual background, even though to the untrained eye, it may seem to be an attempt at dark humor!).
You can go all over the internet and find a million hits for ways to “Get your kids to keep their room clean in 5 easy steps or one bottle of wine, whichever comes first!” or “I changed my kid’s chore hatred overnight with this 400 sticker chart”. I don’t know what kind of sacrifice they made at the altar of parenthood, but I was absent that day. I wish I knew a better way to get my kids to help out more and be a part of something bigger than the latest game or hanging out with friends. In the meantime, where did I put that can of spray? It’s “guaranteed to eliminate, not just cover up odor”. I wonder if a teen wrote that promise on the can?
^^Yes, I KNOW it’s my duty, but I need to find the manual. What do you mean there isn’t one? 😉