Picture the man. He is in his comfy chair in the living room, it’s Friday after work. There’s a pestilence on outside. Chores need catching up on. That child of yours though is aimlessly footling about the house. You know, being a kid. However, the time has come for their next chore. The man in his comfy chair raises his voice enough to be heard in the next room, “Billy! Take the trash out.”
In writing we are told that the active voice is preferred. In education we are given both the syllabus and the rubric for our work. In employment we have our job description. In spirituality we have our doctrines. All of these things have something in common. They all tell us what is expected of us. Being a parent means doing the same thing. Yet when that isn’t happening or some negative behavior crops up a father will tell his children to “stop it”.
A man carefully opens the glass cabinet and pulls down a display case. This one has a long and storied history. It is one of the most prized in his collection. So valuable, because it was the first of it’s kind only 1100 were made. Of those only 100 for civilian use. Originally designed in 1846. When he looks upon it he sees the amazing ingenuity of a Texas Ranger combined with an American Inventor. It is his very own Colt Walker … replica. (He isn’t a millionaire after all) Right next it sits a box of 44 caliber lead shot and powder.
A child can be afraid of many things for many reasons. If your ‘dad card’ is in your wallet you will know that fear needs to be validated. Even if it is a fear of the package of toilet paper you just got out of the hall closet. The common refrain is “there is nothing to be scared of.” From the child’s perspective that isn’t very helpful, especially when it is reassurance and validation they are searching for.
So your sitting in your chair minding your own business occupied paying bills and balancing the family budget, and your littlest bundle comes and starts to squeeze through that gap between your arm, leg, and table. You, of course, ask them what they are doing and they say “Climbing up here, will you snuggle me?” they ask as they arrive in your lap and push their little body in between you and the important task in front of you. Here is the moment of truth, your dadhood is on the line. What do you do?
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” is what they say. Sometimes it is true. You look down at those big eyes and see yourself. You see all those little things you did as a child, all the little things you still do today as an adult, all the same attitudes, all the same quirks, all the same flaws. It’s like looking into a mirror.
It either has already happened to you, or you forgot about it. Being wrong and getting mad at someone else over it. Maybe it was directions that didn’t get followed because you forgot to give them. Maybe it was following the directions you gave that turned out to be bad from the start. No matter what the situation everyone gets to be wrong. Things get out of hand when you’re wrong and you are mad at someone else for it. Like yelling at the foreman because you smashed your thumb with your hammer.
Picture yourself heading out to your favorite fishing hole. You’ve kept your spot a secret from everyone, but now it is time to bring your next generation in. You quietly sneak through the brush to the water’s edge and set your cooler and two chairs down in the small clearing. It’s their first time out, so you cast for them: vrizz, plop. Then you cast out yourself: vrizz, plop. Okay everyone is ready. You’re just about to sit yourself down in your chair to enjoy the quiet of the lake. “Dad, can you cast me out again?”
Chores are a necessary part of life, especially in a place lived in by more than one person. Even more so when that place is your home and it is shared with your wife and children. Age appropriate chores helps your kids become responsible. As they grow and become more responsible, deadlines for chores make them more diligent. As they increase in responsibility and diligence then your confidence in them grows as well.
More confidence results more trustworthiness which in turn results in more freedoms and privileges. There is a domino effect that leads to them being well adjusted adults instead of self-entitled crybabies. And it all starts with age-appropriate chores.
It happened. You clearly told them not to put ketchup in the potted plants; you explained it will not make them turn red, or grow tomatoes; you made them recite the new house rule back to you every morning for a month: ‘I will not water the plants with ketchup’; but now it has happened for the eleventeenth time this week. So what should you do?