Once upon a time, late one evening in a home in Barbados, there was a conversation.
“See, you haven’t washed this dish properly.”
“Yes I did.”
“No, you didn’t. Hold it up to the light. See the marks on the glass?”
“There, in the corners. It’s still dirty.”
“I don’t see anything.”
“You don’t want to see. Just wash the dish again.”
“But mummy …”
“Wash. The. Dish. Now. Please.”
And yes, it was late in the evening and I was so tired it would have been easier to just wash the dish myself instead of using my breath for so much conversation. I knew that Nathan felt the same way too but what lesson would he have learnt if I kept fixing his mistakes? Nothing – except laziness and irresponsibility.
Sometimes it’s easy to give in to temptation to just get things done minus the attitude. I know because I’m guilty of doing this especially on those days when Nathan is being deliberately passively resistant. This is how the scenario plays out:
- You give him a task
- He shows he doesn’t want to do it by rushing through whatever needs to be done in two minutes flat and goes back to his room
- The task is half completed or not done properly at all
- You call him back to finish the job
- He now moves super super slow with a frown on his face and defiant body language
The first few times we experienced this I would stress myself out by complaining and quarrelling and complaining some more; now I’m a whole lot quieter. I simply make a request, check when it’s done, re-request to have it re-done if not done to my specifications, re-check one more time, and insist on repeating the process if necessary – all without raising my voice.
Nathan is at the age where he is mastering in T&T 101 i.e. testing boundaries and testing my patience. I cannot depend on his teachers at school to teach him the basics he needs to know e.g. washing dishes, preparing meals, doing laundry or cleaning his room. And it’s up to his dad and I as well to teach him the foundation on which the basics are built e.g. mutual respect, openness, trust, responsibility and commitment.
I admit that some days I would much rather run away and not deal with teenaged hormones … but I won’t give up.