Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mom Myth Buster

"You have a lot of kids so the older ones must help out a lot right?"  I get this bit of folk lore from well meaning people and I know other moms of more than two do as well, particularly if there's any sort of gap.  It's not that the older kids don't help out.  It isn't that they can't help.  It's that the presumption when people say such things, is that once children hit twelve, they become something other than teenagers, they become reliable staff.

I can only presume the people or person who created this bit of commonly held wisdom never knew a single twelve to twenty-one year old, and never experienced being anywhere close to that age themselves.  They just skipped all of adolescence and immerged on the scene at twenty-five with a full Wikipedia approved understanding of how to raise multiple children which they generously impart to anyone who has them but doesn't seem to grasp how to do it properly. (Meaning me).

Here are just a few samples of where I've been told, the older ones should pitch in, and where I've found, for various reasons, it's not happening.

Homework:  "The older ones help the younger ones." No. This does not happen.  Not because they can't. Not because they won't.  It's that they have homework too.  Besides, I don't blame them.  I wouldn't want to do one of my younger sibling's homework either.  None of us liked it the first time around and it hasn't become any more beloved a task as part of somebody else's responsibility. Also, the older kids had to put up with my inept support in math, I suspect they've banded together to 1) ensure I maybe one day master 5th grade fractions and 2) no one younger gets out of having to figure it out for themselves after being told the next day by the teacher, they did it wrong.

Laundry:  Despite having a machine which does the washing and another which does the drying, this task remains a labor of either the desperate or me.  No one likes their clothing co-mingling unless they're the squatter adding in, in which case they can't see what the problem might be.

One caveat:  Everyone will very helpfully point out, so and so needs to do laundry, or so and so needs to put away their laundry.  They are also quite willing to serve as nag-o-ramas whether asked or not, to the child who needs to catch up on their wash.

Dishes: I've been told by helpful strangers, to assign each task to two children.  Like all things proposed, it works in theory.  Whenever I try to do pairings to have an older kids work with younger ones, either the older one masters the art of exploitation, the younger one becomes a ninja, incapable of being discovered, or both collude to find something so mommy-tear-jerkingly-beautiful to do I won't insist on the original task.  This third ploy, though seldom used, always works.  I've caught them playing cards, reading stories and practicing music together.  They've made castles, puzzles and colored together.  The result (I'm a sap) is I see this precious moments facade, fall for it every time, and wind up finishing the task for them.  

So yes, the older ones do help the younger master the art of the dodge.  But what will the younger ones do when they mature and there are no younger ones to use as  human shields to avoid work?  Probably collude writing "How to Parent Properly Such that Your Kids Do Chores Books" and offer to sign one for me provided I pay an additional fee.

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