Those who know me, know that I've got 3 adorable rugrats running around here. The older two are in school most of the year while Little Boy is my constant sidekick. Now, though, we are all at home for summer break. Together. All day. And I'm trying desperately to redirect them every time I hear, "Mom, can we watch a show?" My aversion to television is a whole other post altogether, though, and not the point of this post. What was the point of this post again?
Oh, yeah. The point is, that I've got a whole lot of farm/household chores to get done around here and lots of "helpers" right now. Let me explain why "helpers" needs to be in quotation marks. ?Take this morning, for example . . .
Girl 1 decided this morning that she would like to earn an extra quarter by cleaning out the goat pen while I weed the strawberry patch. Great! Go to it! Meanwhile, Girl 2 would like to help me weed the strawberry patch, only she can't find her gloves. "Mom, will you help me find my weeding gloves?" I find the weeding gloves by the swingset, where Little Boy would like a push, or two, or 100. I return to the strawberry patch, gloves in tow, just in time to hear that Girl 1 needs help wrestling the hose into the goat pen. I help her finish up the goat pen cleanout only to return to the berry patch and find that "weeding" to a 5-year-old apparently means uprooting every living thing. Oh, well. Little Boy would like a snack. Everyone would like some water. Looks like we're headed back inside, and the strawberry plants that survived their run-in with a 5-year-old still haven't been properly weeded.
Sometimes, it would be easy to get frustrated with them because they don't get the work done as smoothly, quickly, or efficiently as I could do it. But, then I remember, my 7-year-old asked me if she could clean the poo from the goat pen. My 5-year-old asked me if she could help pull weeds. So what if it takes twice (or maybe 5 times) longer to get the job done? My kids are learning the value of work. They enjoy seeing the finished product of a job well done. They are learning what it means to be part of a team.
And, if we're patient about teaching them how to do these things, one day, Girl 1 really will be able to clean out the pen all by herself. And, I'll be able to trust that Girl 2 knows the difference between Bermuda grass and strawberry vine. In fact, last week, I mused to my husband that for the first time ever, the kids and I actually cleaned the entire house faster than I usually do it on my own. Seriously. Now, it's taken us awhile to get to this. For example, there was the time that I refilled the dusting spray bottle, put Girl 2 to work in the living room then came back to find the bottle empty again and all surfaces with standing liquid. And, sure we've had a few mirrors that looked worse after they were cleaned than before. But, now, here we are -- cleaning faster as a team than I can do it as an individual and having fun as we do it.
For the sake of honesty, I should reveal that I am the kind of person who would much rather do a job myself so that it will be done up to my standards than delegate, so this type of patient teaching ending in below-par results doesn't come naturally to me. I am constantly having to remind myself that the ultimate end result is not the result of that individual job --we're working toward something so much bigger -- and that end result is worth my own inward struggle.
Ultimately, we may not be nearly as productive this summer as just Little Boy and I are during the school year, but we'll be having fun and learning valuable lessons all along the way.