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Chores. I remember being a kid and having chores, and thinking I was overworked and under-appreciated. I remember feeling like all I ever did was work. I know it takes a while to have a grownup mind, but wow, is the young mind a crazy place. I truly remember knowing for certain that our home would cease to function without my efforts, and that somehow, my parents were able to sit around and do nothing because of all the toil of us kids. (So. Not. True.)

Perhaps I wanted to be the cool mom, the one who comes up with wild and exciting things for my kids to do, and I haven’t put a lot into making them earn things. Most of the things I want to reward them with are things I really want to do for them anyway, so taking those rewards away seems like a punishment to me.

It hit me last night that without having to work for something, there is no thrill of accomplishment. I know, gosh, am I a slow learner.

Another of the mundane things that accompany childhood is homework. And I will admit that I don’t always do the exact homework being sent home for my kindergartner. We play math games, we play word and letter games, I read to him, we explore all kinds of things, but the day-in day-out repetition seems mindless and boring, and we don’t always do it. Well, with home-school for our 4th grader in full swing, I need to be a little more like a drill sergeant when it comes to homework. I was sugar and spice yesterday, but also firm and told them there would be no movie or ice cream unless homework was done.

Bean lost his mind. Well, he has been doing that a lot lately. He is six-years old, and the chore thing hasn’t really happened for him. He can barely pick up his own toys. My fault, I totally understand. I have created an environment where he isn’t responsible for a lot, and therefore, he will just throw up his hands and wail and I go rescue him and do it for him. This seems like a bad idea when I really look at it, and potentially the cause of all that falling to pieces of late.

So, last night, calmly, I just forged ahead with this new plan of actually having to finish every single step in the homework. Ben had a report to write for History, he had some Math to practice, some reading to do, and a Math Game for even more practice. Bean needed to work on his letters, his numbers, writing his letters, blending words (pre-reading) and play a first sounds game with me. There was a big list for each of them. Bean has been refusing to want to learn to read, and I think, again, that’s because I’ve been doing everything for him. Why should he want to work for something. Oy Vey.

It was exhausting, staying focused and positive through all the huffing and puffing, and maneuvering to get out of it, and distraction attempts. Just when things would be getting tense, Scott would come in and make the boys laugh. He’s always so good at that. And then he would encourage them to plow through their work and mind their mother. He was in the middle of making us a ridiculously good dinner. Eventually, we got into a groove, and things starting chugging along, and before long, we were checking things off the list, and I could feel the sense of accomplishment growing in our house. It was a like a bubble of hot air, full of bounciness, that was ready to burst.

And it did – with bouncing all over the place – because we were done! And we’d earned our ice cream, and we’d earned our movie… of the book we just finished reading this week.

My children are high-spirited, energetic, bouncing off the walls types to begin with – add in a little well deserved pride of work, and they were soaring. Ben said he felt like Hermione Granger, the super clever, impressively studious girl from the Harry Potter series.

It never occurred to me that I was spoiling anyone. But I think the lack of concrete chores, and the running around that we do for fun and learning field trips without all the hard work of the learning, studying, writing about, discovering, experimenting, coming to conclusions, and THEN getting the field trip – will backfire on me quicker than, well. I have some adjusting to do, it seems. With chores, and homework, and my own childish mind that sees them both as drudgery, when in reality, they are what make us strong and smart and able to achieve great things.

After we were all done, Bean brought me a fairy tattoo as a prize, and I feel I earned it. I will wear it today with pride.

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light-bulb photo from here

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