For instance, Isaac was tired of having to make his bed every morning before school, so, he developed a plan. One night earlier this week, he asked me, "Do we have another cozy blanket I can cover up with?" I was confused, since he had plenty of warmth already on his bed. "Um, sure, I can get you something..." So, I grabbed another comforter from big brother Ethan's closet. When I brought the blanket in, I saw him positioning himself, with the greatest care and poise as to not mess up the bed ON TOP of his regular covers, and told me to "just lay that blanket on top of me." Trying not to laugh or make light of this serious command, I finally asked, "Why aren't you under your comforter that's already on your bed, buddy?"
"Mom," Isaac replied seriously (with his eyes closed, preparing mentally for dreamland), "this way, I can just get up in the morning and my bed is already made."
I don't know if I should categorize this behavior in laziness or genius...
Either way, I smiled, and let the boy do his thing. After all, I am trying to teach my kids how to manage their time, right? Although, the next morning, Isaac still had to fold up the extra comforter, and it took the same amount of time it would have taken just to make his bed. He made note of this.
Managing time, managing emotions, managing words and communication...these jobs seem to never end as a mom of a child with special needs (and an older sibling/man-child who is entering the pre-teen years as well). It's just a barrel of fun over here some days.
The one thing that I have been continually honing in myself is how to express what I need or want for my boys in a way that is clear, concise, and kind. (I was hoping to shorten this rule to the 3C's in honor of my sons' efficiency, but...there's kind...so...nevermind). The benefits of this type of communication make everyone a little more on task and understanding.
But it's definitely not without its flaws.
This morning, I asked Isaac to help me unload the dishwasher. This was clear: this was definitely concise: I didn't say it with anger or frustration, so I could check off kind. I even said PLEASE.
Isaac complied and went to work. I was getting coffee made and boiling an egg for Ethan's breakfast when I turned around and saw that Isaac had disappeared, but on the kitchen counter, the top rack of the dishwasher sat. I had to smirk. He did what I asked. He unloaded the dishwasher (onto the counter). I called him back into the kitchen and thanked him for doing what I asked, but I would like him to also help me put the cups in the cabinets. "Oh, okay, but I did what you told me." He said. I thanked him again, but told him "it's important that we finish what we start--when you get a cup for a drink, do you get it from the counter or from the cabinet?" He thought a moment, "the cabinet." "Right," I said. "You took the cups out, but we didn't finish putting them where they belong, so let's do that together, okay?" We finished what we started, and I said it like I meant it.
Sometimes, shortcuts can be worthwhile. In other ways, shortcuts can make more work for us in the long-run. What we would do better off with is making time to say things like we mean them--having a heart of empathy and a heart that looks forward to seeing our children understand the value of their time and their words. Even something so little and tedious as making a bed or putting dishes away--these are skills and tools that can be used to teach invaluable lessons.
It takes me extra time to explain things: Reasoning with my logical and analytical Isaac, and switching gears (in a moment's notice) to compassion and emotional dissection with my older Ethan. As parents, I think we forget what a skill and gift this is! We are mediators, translators, and ambassadors for the
Take time. Say it like you mean it. Don't be afraid to skip the shortcuts (if they aren't the genius types).
Your little ones will thank you. :-)
|Ethan and Isaac, taking shortcuts together since 2006|
(look how LITTLE they were!?)