Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Two mornings ago I introduced the chore chart. Our very first, so the concept was brand new to both boys. Christopher Robin listened with rapt attention and Peanut Butter with a quizzical expression as I explained that as each chore was completed, they could draw an X in the appropriate box, and at the end of the day if all their boxes were X-ed, they would receive a nickel. "So, today is Monday. If you run and make your bed, you can come back and put an X in this box here." It bothered Christopher Robin to leave Sunday's boxes blank, but we were starting on Monday, and I wanted something I could print out each week, so it couldn't be helped. He's so type C. Just like his mom.
Christopher Robin squealed with excitement and ran to make his bed. I took Peanut Butter with me and "together" we made his bed. I was right, he loved doing something that involved me helping him one-on-one. Then Christopher Robin raced back to the chore chart on the fridge and wrote an X in his first box. Then he decided he would save his second chore, emptying the dishwasher, for later. I think his idea was to savor the experience, and not use it all up at once. That, however, doesn't work for me; I need the dishwasher emptied first thing in the morning, so I can spend the rest of the day filling it with the dirty dishes we make. He willingly complied when I explained that the first two chores were for the beginning of the day, and the last one we would do at the end. Peanut Butter wanted to help empty the dishwasher, so he did the silverware, and I wondered if I should have made that part his chore. But on further reflection, I'm glad I didn't, because there will be many mornings when he decides he doesn't want to put away the silverware, especially when he figures out it's something I require, so I'm content to let him help Christopher Robin with his chore when he decides he wants to without getting any credit for it. When he's three or four, and control isn't at quite the same level of importance to him, then I'll think about adding to his chore list.
Along with the chore list is the "new" mentality of cleaning up after ourselves each time we're finished with something. To Christopher Robin, putting the toys away as soon as we're finished is directly linked with the last chore, all toys and books put away before bed. The truth is, as long as they're all put away before bed, they'll get the credit, but doing it promptly as soon as we're done with something is a much better way of living. I keep telling myself. Practically, it's pretty overwhelming trying to stay on top of each item they use and tell them to put it back when they're done. There's a pair of damp socks on the floor that Peanut Butter took off after he went out on the still-wet deck. Okay, "Peanut Butter, stop what you're doing and run and put your socks in the laundry, please." There's a pile of coloring books scattered beside the coloring book tub, and Christopher Robin is diligently working on a new color-by-number with crayons at the table. "Christopher Robin, stop what you're doing please and put the other coloring books away." There's a tractor and wagon hauling a flashlight and ball, left untended because Peanut Butter has moved on to coloring with Christopher Robin. "Peanut Butter, please put the tractor and wagon back in the toy closet." "Me not done, Mom." All day long, trying to stay on top of when one pair of hands or the other leaves items on the floor or table or island, all the while trying to stay on top of my own clutter, not allowing myself to leave any unfinished project undone while I move on to the next... it's overwhelming. I wonder if it's even possible. And yet, I know if I can do it, train myself and them to put things away when we're done, it will make things easier for the rest of our lives. Several times during the day yesterday the mess caught up with us and passed us, but we would stop, reconquer it, and move on with restored order. It helps a lot the Christopher Robin is 100% on board. I think giving him boxes to X is the best gift I've given him in a long time. Neatness and order match his nature, so he's working on training himself about as hard as I'm working on training him. Letting him use a pen to write an X is so much better than putting a sticker in the box. I debated, and decided on the pen, and it was definitely the right call. Peanut Butter is not as enthusiastic, because this new way of living involves me telling him what to do more often, which he resents. I wish I could think of a way to get his two year old heart involved so we were on the same team. Communication is still such a do I keep it simple, yet help him want to put his things away? How do I make putting his things away his own decision??
As you can see on the picture of the chore chart, Peanut Butter decided writing in the boxes was great fun, so when I was out of the room he marked up most of his boxes on his own. I didn't say anything, but when it was time to put an X in his box last night, I explained that he didn't get to do it because he had already written in his box earlier, and that if he wrote in his boxes without Mommy's permission again, he would get a spank.
I know all this training will be worth it. I know it. But I find myself at the end of the day absolutely exhausted. Wiped out. My Hero has worked late both evenings so far this week, which plays into it. By supper time my energy level is nearing empty, so when he's not home, I'm running on fumes as I put them to bed , and stumble around finishing up whatever I had left undone, and try to get to bed early, which ends up being 10 PM or later anyway, somehow. And yesterday Raindrop was cranky all day for an unknown reason (her second bottom tooth just popped through, so it's not that, but maybe =sigh= she has a new one coming in up top), and then she woke up a lot of times during the night, which almost never happens anymore. Just when I feel like a good, full night sleep is what I need to face the day. Truthfully, what I need is a humble attitude, a repentant heart, and fear of the Lord. Those days are always by far my best days.
So, the kids are awake and cheerfully ready to begin this beautiful Wednesday, and I humbly ask the high king of heaven for His Spirit's help in another day of training in self discipline.

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