Often, my oldest daughter meets my requests to do something with resistance. She doesn’t like being told what to do it seems. Neither do I, really, so I get it. However, I believe, there comes a time when we MUST cooperate with others, doing what is asked of us regardless of how we feel about the task. We also need to become aware of how we can contribute and help others out in times of need. And, I believe, children, MUST learn to respectfully mind adults (even if they don’t want to).
Yesterday, my oldest daughter demonstrated these essential life skills, unfailingly, for three hours, a blip really, but … it … was … beautiful. And, it solidified for me, her ability to cooperate respectfully. It gave me hope … for her … for her future.
She and I, home alone with the baby, had a long list of “to dos” to accomplish as we prepared for our next summer adventure, which begins in two days. Every request was accomplished fully and without argument. And there were a lot of them …
- Please organize the diapers and wipes in this cubby.
- Please bring your running shoes and put them in this little cupboard.
- Hang up your coats on the hooks in your bedroom.
- Please bring the little garbage can from your room out to the camper.
- Grab the helmets and the umbrellas.
- Let’s go outside and pick the tomatoes (I did pick most of them, but when we got to the last plant, she said, “I feel like I need to work hard and fast on this one to make up for the others.”).
- Put your muffin in a ZIPLOC bag.
- Clean the onions (tears ensued, but she persevered).
- Tidy the bathroom counter and wipe it down.
- Move the laundry from the washer to the dryer.
- Put this in the recycling please.
- Grab the baby monitor and throw it in the basket for the camper.
- Pack up the toothbrushes and paste.
- Can you watch Cambri while I do this?
- Unload the parts of the dishwasher that you can manage.
- Fill the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash and pack them in the bag for the camper.
- Let’s fill some snack bags for our trip.
- It’s time for a bath now.
Request after request after request, my daughter cooperated, and I could see how capable she is, how cooperative she can be, how respectful …
My daughter is nearing her 7.5 year-old birthday … she is crazy-bright, she is talented, she asks lots of questions, she yearns to learn, she is so, so capable … of behaving well, of doing much.
Just the other day, I was taken aback when I caught her downstairs emptying the dehumidifier … without being asked. She heard the incessant beeping and responded. When asked to tidy the living room on Friday, she did it, and she did a fine job, putting things away where they belonged and even “decorating” a little, setting out a flower vase and a photo on the coffee table. She folded up blankets, and tucked them on a shelf. She lined up Cambri’s toys neatly along the wall.
Yesterday, when asked, she organized the snack drawer. Again, doing a fine job of putting like with like and lining things up neatly, so we have a better idea of what we have and what we need to buy.
Days (or hours) like the ones spent with my oldest yesterday are a gift to be treasured, but they are also the reason that I get so frustrated (and angry) when she is being rotten. I KNOW she can DO better; I KNOW she can BE better. And, I just can’t wrap my head around why she wouldn’t want to DO and BE better. She is so, so capable. And, she and I have had many conversations around this topic … about how good it FEELS to do the right thing. The helpful thing. The kind thing.
Why is this so easy to forget? For seven-year-olds? For moms? For people?