My kids do chores. Every day, without fail, they clean my entire house. I know, I know…you don’t believe me. I’m just as in shock as the next guy and when I trace my actions to figure out how I accomplished such an impossible task, it still makes no sense. I’ll save that for another day. It could have something to do with my dictator style of parenting.
A few weeks ago Anthony was in trouble for…oh, who knows what, he’s always in trouble…and his dad told him that dishes were his job for the rest of the week whereas normally they alternate. Somewhere around day three he did a fantastic job.
“Oh wow, the kitchen looks amazing,” I said, big eyed and smiling. “How did you get that stain off the counter? Where did that pot of fermented green beans go that has been sitting there for six days? Oh My Gosh, did you clean out the fridge? HOLY COW! THAT’S AWESOME!” And then I did a little dance across the floor that you will never want to witness.
When his week was up, one morning while divvying up chores I said to Luke, “No, I want Anthony to do the kitchen…he does a much better job and I really need it done right today.” This accomplished two tasks. It let Luke know that his mediocre job had been noticed and it let Anthony know that he had ‘won’ in the continual battle to outdo his brother.
Anthony puffed out his chest, stepped up to the plate and did it.
The next day Anthony offered, “Mom, do you want ME to do the dishes today instead of Luke?”
“Yes, please,” I said. “I really appreciate it…you do such a good job.”
And so it went. For three weeks now Anthony has been cleaning the kitchen every morning. Why? Because every single morning without fail, Luke has gone directly into the kitchen upon waking and started rinsing dinner dishes left from the night before.
Anthony, seeing his status as king dishwasher at risk, freaks out. “DIBS ON DISHES!” he says, running from his bed in a frantic frenzy.
And thus begins a five minute argument over who gets to scrape leftovers, wipe counters, unload and fill the dishwasher.
And Luke? He grabs a broom and ‘sweeps’ at Anthony’s feet in pretense of cleaning the floor. It’s a fine balance, raising boys with good work ethic. Or at least with the competitive edge that will help when they go out into the real world. But I think we are on the right track.