Refusing to be the Little Red Hen
Everyone knows the story of the Little Red Hen, right?
The Little Red Hen makes a loaf of bread by planting the wheat, watering the wheat, harvesting the wheat, milling the wheat , then turning the wheat into bread.
Along the way, she asks for help and everyone says “Not I!” until it comes time to eat the bread, when all of a sudden everyone wants to help.
To the Little Red Hen’s credit, she eats the bread all by herself, however, I don’t want to be the Little Red Hen.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the chore chart and to update on that, it’s been great. I’m not the kind of mother to say, “Who wants to help me?” Instead, I say, “Do it, or there are consequences.” I don’t simply take beloved things away, I explain to them that to do the things I ask of them is to be a part of the family. They are learning that I’m human and if they don’t like doing a particular task, what makes them think that I’d in turn love it?
Today is Wednesday, which means they do their laundry. Claire and Luca gather their laundry and take it downstairs. I have the washer set up so all Claire has to do is push a button and line it up in the dispenser to fill it with soap. She knows what setting it should always be on. When it’s done, they put the clothes into the dryer. Luca puts the dryer sheets in and Claire, again, knows the settings it should be on.
Growing up with a single mother, I knew that I had a job to do to be a part of the family. My mom didn’t have time to do everything. We each had a job and we did it. Sure, we complained and groaned, but that’s normal. We still did it.
I’m not a single mother. And I stay home with the kids the majority of the time. Does this then mean I should do everything because that’s a part of my description?
Yah, no. A part of my job description is to raise the kids to be the best kids they can be. Being the best kids they can be includes being independent and understanding of real life. A line that’s used often in our house is, “Do you think that things just magically clean themselves? Do you think dinner magically cooks itself? We all have a job to do.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t teach the kids that every task is annoying and daunting. I love to cook for my family. I love to bake them things as surprises. It makes me happy to vacuum on occasion, and having a clean house really is a great feeling. That said, I’m not doing it all alone day in and day out. That’s not teaching anyone anything, except for how I can martyr myself.
My kids are still kids. Just this morning they were rolling around in a giant blanket on the floor playing a game they made up called hot dog. They pretend to be super heroes and monkeys. They draw, they read, they run around.
But for thirty minutes or less a day, they have a job to do.
I refuse to be the Little Red Hen who says, “Then I’ll do it myself.”