Thursday, February 10, 2005

On Teaching Personal Responsibility

This week is going to be an extra-hard one for my kids. They are being taught to take responsibility for their possessions. The recent bout of flu brought to light how much of the housework is done by me that should be done by other members of the family, and so I'm buckling down and teaching my kids some much-needed lessons.

Sonshine and I had a discussion with me about the proper care of library books and videos and the consequences of not caring for them. (One summer the kids had left their library videos outside in the wagon and I restricted them from checking out videos.) Immediately after the discussion, Sonshine decided he didn't want to carry the library bag any more, and just left it by the side of the road on the way to the bus stop. When we discovered it was missing, we immediately went back to look for it, and we found it. But the video inside looked like it had been run over by a car (the books, thankfully, were OK). Needless to say, Sonshine is no longer allowed to check out videos at the library. He received a stern lecture and was required to carry the library bag all the way back to the house without complaining about how heavy it is.

Tiny Princess is old enough and large enough now that she can carry her own violin and music to school for her before-school and after-school lessons. I reminded her to do so this morning, but she forgot to bring it, so I made her go to lessons without a violin or music.

Her life is about to get much, much worse, though. When she returns from school, she will find that four bags of her and Sonshine's toys are missing and that the only ones she has left are the ones she put away in the drawers we've provided for her, and the ones she left in her bed. Any toys that were left on the floor outside of designated toy storage bins are gone.

The official party line on the toy disappearance is that Mommy was just trying to be helpful. Every time I ask them to put away their toys, the kids complain that the task is just too overwhelming and they can't even start it. So I got rid of all the toys that were too onerous to pick up. They ought to be grateful for my assistance, because now it will be much, much easier for them to pick up their toys and they can spend more time playing and less time cleaning.

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning from now on, any toys left on the floor will be taken away, until we reach a sustainable level of toyitude.

In addition to the four bags of toys, I found over a dozen distinct socks whose mates are waiting for them in the laundry room. It will be a joyous reunion, and Princess can finally quit looking in vain for socks in her drawer.