Monday, July 24, 2017

Real Help

"I want to help, Mommy!" can either be a blessing or a curse. Their hearts are so good and I always want to encourage their "help". I just have to be prepared to clean up an entire bag of flour off the floor and accept the fact that I will probably have to give them a bath afterward because they thought it would be cool to spread egg all over their bellies. But as my kids begin to age out of the catastrophic mess phase, I am gaining real help.

"We're done, Mommy!" my oldest yelled from the loft. They had been cleaning for HOURS and I responded to that statement like a fireman called to fire. I ran to the utility closet and lugged the vacuum upstairs so that I could vacuum their bedrooms and the playroom. I only have about a three minute window to do this in between the time they finish cleaning and the time they start playing. If I wait, a bin of legos is sure to be dumped out and the process has to start all over again. There was not a moment to spare.

My middle child was waiting at the top of the stairs. "Mommy, I've got this. Let me do the vacuuming. It's our mess, right?"

I looked at him gauging his seriousness. His big brown eyes were open wide in kindness and he reached out to take the vacuum from me. "Wow, that would be really great, buddy! Thank you." I sat on the top stair so that when he got bored with the task (two minutes was my estimate), I could pick up where he left off. But that kid spent a solid twenty minutes vacuuming every inch of the upstairs. I couldn't believe it. "Drew, you did such a great job and you really helped me out today. Thank you so much!" I hugged him and his chest puffed out with pride.

"Yep. I figure it's about time we help you out a little more."

You know what? He was right. They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. All those years that they have done more smearing than cleaning the windows and more spreading dirt than sweeping it up, they have been learning. It has been teaching them that they are a necessary part of our family's ecosystem. They are valuable and needed. While the product of their work is not always (or...umm..ever) the quality of the work that we would do, the message is powerful.

I want my kids to apply this to their families as they grow up. I want them to apply it to their community and to the world. Their contribution is important and necessary. If I have to give them an extra bath or two along the way, so be it. You're welcome, world.

Pat yourself on the back for letting your kids help you even when you don't want to. Challenge them to do more than you think they can; they just might impress you.

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