Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Give and Take

My last post left me with a few unsettled feelings afterwards.

Something I didn’t mention about this last weekend was the big blow up family fight we had on Saturday evening. Maybe it was all of the running around…maybe we were all tired…maybe we’d just had enough of one another. I don’t know! But I do know it left us all feeling like we’d been punched in the stomach.

In a quick summation of events: We wanted to take the kids out for dinner – the kids were on board until Charlie had a meltdown and didn’t want to go – somehow we still made it to the restaurant 20 minutes away, but within one minute of sitting down the kids were punching each other – Rick got up and left – we followed – the drive home included two screaming children who suddenly wanted to go back. Both kids were in bed by 6pm that night (after we pulled a sleeping Noelle out of her closet where she had cried herself to sleep!) and Rick and I barely spoke until Sunday. Good times!

What I really got out of that entire fiasco was that my children have no sense of other people’s feelings at all. Never mind that Dad and Mom want to go out to dinner and have a nice family evening – if it’s not what they want, they don’t care! I realize that things like sympathy and empathy and consideration come from age and life experience, etc, but at some point I would like them to step out of their bubble and see that the world is not all about them!

I took some real time to think on this late that night and came up with what I think were some good plans. First off, I sat both kids down individually and talked to them about what it means to be a part of a family. I pointed out that we don’t function well if we don’t work together as a team. I then told them that, essentially, the buck stops here. The attitude from the night before is no longer acceptable, and it’s time they start doing their part. I then came up with various chores for them to do on Sunday morning, and was completely amazed when they both stepped up without one complaint. Not one! They emptied the dishwasher together and then each cleaned out one of our cars. (It’s amazing the stuff they leave on the floors!) After that Noelle helped me fold sheets and put them away while Charlie scooped up dog whatsits in the backyard.

I think we’ve found a new and wonderful routine that I love for weekend mornings!

Lastly, I told Charlie that I want him to do some volunteer work with me this month. I think we would both benefit from some time at a shelter or soup kitchen, helping others. He needs his eyes opened that life at Sleepless Mornings Lane isn’t so bad! (I’m not including Noelle because I think one kid at a time will be better for both me and the kid, and Charlie is the most influential right now.)

This leads to why I felt disconcerted about my last post.

While I’m happy to buy Christmas presents for my children, and I do look forward to seeing the joy on their faces as they open them, I am also really conscious, more than ever, of what they’re learning in terms of giving and receiving. They need to learn that it’s a two way street, and that sometimes you just give.


Mere said...

Your family fiasco sounds very similar to the fiascos we used to have. It will get better, but just know that you are not alone!

I like that you give your kids responsibilities. I think in today's society parents don't always hold their kids responsible for anything thus creating the world of strung out teens today.

Volunteering is a wonderful thing. It really is. I love giving to others which is why Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.

Love, Mere

Ranch Girl said...

It is such a hard thing sometimes helping kids figure out about being part of a family, helping out, that there isn't a fairy that does the housework and the shopping - I mean, how does that food get to the house?! Anyway, sometimes it takes a major fiasco to make some changes - kudos to you!

Angela said...

Oh....the things I have to look forward to.

Hearing this makes me feel bad for all of the times I caused problems for my parents when they wanted to do things as a family. Maybe I should go and apologize...

kel said...

Kids totally need responsibilities! Good for you!