Monthly Archives: November 2010

My little laundry helpers

One night recently, my ds4 was so tired that he fell asleep in the clothes he had been wearing all day.  First thing the next morning, I started the first of the two or three loads of laundry that I usually do daily, but because he was wearing the clothes, they obviously weren’t in the dirty clothes pile. When I came upstairs from putting the only dark load in the washer, I saw him wearing clothes that needed to be washed, and I thought he’d appreciate the grown-up feeling of putting his own clothes in the washer.  So I enthusiastically suggested to him that he take the dirty clothes off, and he could throw them right into the washing machine himself!

Well, he was excited to do this, and he and ds3 went downstairs together to put the clothes in.  After about five minutes they still hadn’t come back, so I sent someone to check on them.  (Experience has shown that when the two of them are left unsupervised, huge messes happen very fast.)  Dd10 came upstairs looking unhappy, bringing the two of them with her, and (knowing from her face something had happened) when I asked ds4 what they did, he told me he added soap to the washing machine so everything would get clean.  Dd10 then told me they put a LOT of dishsoap in the washer, so I went downstairs to check it out myself.

Well, they had found several bottles of dish soap on the storage shelf-I don’t know if they were all full when they began, but 2-1o oz bottles were empty on the floor, and one 32 oz bottle was half empty.  When I looked in the washer at the end of the cycle, the clothes were slippery with dishwashing liquid. This wasn’t particularly good timing, since we had to go somewhere that afternoon and the clothes I wanted them to wear an hour later were in that load.

As I turned on the machine to do another cycle to wash out the soap (I had to do this several times until all of the soap was all washed out – my basement for a couple of days smelled like a soap factory:)), I had visions of the Curious George book, when the mischevious little monkey put so much detergent in the washing machine that the house filled with soapsuds and the firemen had to come and use their hose to get it all out of the house (or something like that – it’s been quite a while since I read that particular book!).  Then dd14 and I were talking and we both simultaneously remembered a similar kind of scene in the original Freaky Friday movie.  It just goes to show that the best book and movie scenes mimic real life!

In case you’re wondering how I reacted to the littles, I very emphatically told them that unless I ask them to put soap in the washer, they shouldn’t do it.  And if they want to put some in, they have to ask me first.  It’s nice to want to help, but children do need to have guidelines as to when and how to be of help!


Change in scheduled parenting workshop time

Just a quick note to let those to whom it may be relevant know that I’ve decided to only give one face-to-face parenting workshop at this time.  Rather than having two different groups for  targeted specific age groups, there will be one group for all parents of children up to 11.  It will be held in Baltimore on Sundays from 10:45 am – 12:15.   I know how hard it is to get out at night, and hopefully this will make it easier for some people.  It will definitely be easier for me! :)

I appreciate the interest in cds/downloads/phone options, but at this time I won’t have them available.  When I do offer them, I’d like them to be of professional quality, and I’m not yet set up for that.  I’ll record the sessions just in case, though!


Thoughts on trick-or-treating

Yesterday I had some trick or treaters come knocking in the afternoon, the first to ever come in the four plus years I’ve been living in this house.  My block has very few kids so I guess that’s why I suppose we don’t attract many young children trick or treating.  When I lived in a neighborhood where children frequently knocked on Halloween, I tried to have something to give them, but it isn’t something I do anymore since it hasn’t been necessary!   So when my ds11 answered the door yesterday, he had to tell them we didn’t have anything.

Now I have to tell you that I think trick or treating is an obnoxious activity.  It encourages selfishness, greediness, and attitude of entitlement – and I saw all of that in the response I overheard.  The older of the two children (age about 11 – 12) shouted at ds, “Oh, come on!”  As if they deserved something.  I really dislike when people think they deserve something for doing nothing.  You don’t deserve anything unless you do something to earn it; if someone out of their goodwill wants to give someone something, that’s coming from the goodness of their heart, and children need to be taught by their parents before they knock on the very first door that they need to be appreciative for what they get. 

That’s why I don’t really fault the child for his response – it reflected the lack of guidance and parenting from the adults in his life.   Parents are doing their children a huge disservice to let them believe that it’s acceptable to grab what they can for the day and rush to grab from the next person, just because everyone else is doing it.  This attitude of entitlement harms children and leads to the same kind of thinking in adults. 

Children today are so incredibly entitled,  and a big part of that is there are very few adult expectations of them to give or share with others.  Someone I hadn’t yet met stopped me last week at co-op when I was outside with the boys to tell me what wonderful children I have.  I had never met her so it obviously wasn’t about me!  Why was she so effusive about my children?  Because she had subbed for a class that my ds11 was in, and when he saw her carrying in some boxes, he stopped what he was doing to help her bring them in.  And, she emphasized, not one other adult or child even asked if she needed help.  She was very impressed by ds, but why should something like this be so unusual?  It shouldn’t.  But it is because parents are missing the opportunities to teach their children to think about others.

Kids have so few opportunities to give and are basically taking all the time – we don’t teach kids to do for others by telling them it’s okay to focus on what they want and make demands of others.  I know Halloween is only once a year, but the attitude that permeates the day reflects much more than that.  Parents need to look for opportunities to build character, and Halloween could be an incredible day of fun for everyone if children were taught to focus on making those they encountered happy (eg by showing their costumes or being sure to smile sincerely and say a sincere thank you).