I wrote this Saturday but didn’t have time to post it.
Disclaimer: This is coming off a Spring Break where it snowed a foot the first day and Blake has had viral bronchitis for a week. Meaning he has been out of commission for a week and very ill. So, take this with a grain of salt.
I don’t like working with my kids. I understand that they need to learn to work and why they need to work. They do too, we have talked about it lots of times. (Usually when they are freaking out about chores.) Sometimes these talks turn out okay and sometimes my head is close to exploding and I close my eyes and say/yell, “I’m done!” (My dad used to shake his head silently and that was the sign that he was about to blow. My dad is awesome, so don’t worry.)
While we’re working on the attic today, mudding the walls, a super fun job if you’ve ever done it (Said nobody ever), some of the kids were listening, some were whining, some were crying, some were goofing off and some were hiding. One kid was listening. Wait, one kid? So, what does that tell me? That we have taught one kid to work without being mad (even if they were mad silently.) I guess our methods are working and yes, I understand most seven year olds aren’t mudding walls. I was 36 years old before I mudded my first wall. I don’t count the one that I kicked a hole into and had to fix. Sorry, Dad.
Getting back to the lesson, that kid has learned that to get the job done, you actually have to do the job. Yes, I am sure I could be more fun and innovative with these projects. But when your family has working hard to finish the walk up attic for 18 months, you are out of juice and fun. I am so excited for them to be able to play in the attic and have friends in the attic and enjoy it on a rainy day. I am so excited for the kids to know they had a part in finishing this crazy project. We have never done serious DIY and this is the biggest project in the house, so that is encouraging. And the kids have had the chance to learn some good manual labor.
Sometimes when I want to share my childhood works stories (which are many), I tell them how I had to pull Las Vegas desert tumbleweeds. They were three feet high, full of scratchy stickers and had massive trunks and roots. And it was 100 degrees or more. We had to use a square nose shovel just to defeat the trunk. And yes, we fought and were grumpy and whiny. Oddly enough, those weeds have all disappeared in my parent’s yard, probably because we pulled every last one and destroyed the root system. (You’re welcome!) In their defense, it did pay for our church camp we went to in the summer. Now, when I pull our little baby Midwest weeds, I don’t complain a bit. I am actually grateful that they aren’t tumbleweeds. How’s that for perspective?
The other night, the kids started their kitchen chores after dinner. I had to do something outside and came back and found a miracle. They were doing them. They knew what to do and they were doing it and not fighting or mad. It was eye opening. I was stunned. All the years of crying, fighting, explaining and teaching had paid off. Don’t get me wrong, they still get mad over chores sometimes but it is lessening! So, all you parents in the midst of this (myself included) don’t give up. They will be better for it. They will learn and be able to do hard work and find happiness in a job well done. They will be able to work to pay for church missions or college or savings. They will be able to be responsible! And they will be able to teach their kids how to do the work. Besides, anything hard is worth doing or so I hear, right?
I am sure my Mom and Dad are reading this with a little grin of happiness on their faces because what goes around comes around. And when I call them and tell them about my frustration, they don’t rub it in too hard. But they did shake their heads and smile a little bit because, really, they deserve to. They made it through all of this and a lot more and I (we all) will too.
The other night when the kids were doing their work without fighting and knew what to do. William was waiting for the broom. He is the master sweeper.
Left: The attic right now. It was beams when we first moved in so, lots of progress.
Right: The only victim of the DIY was the cupboard door being broke off. The upside is the kid who broke it, didn’t lie about it.