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Responsibility – More Than Dirty Laundry

If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.  ~ Abigail Van Buren  

Kyle picking his dodgeball team at the Fishing Derby 5/2009

Over Easter weekend, my sister came home and we helped out with cleaning the house, running errands and getting ready for the holiday.  I absolutely believe in giving kids choices and most importantly giving them responsibility.  Kyle will do chores but usually someone has to be standing along side him or somewhere close watching him.  He works better as a team, or I should say as a foreman.  On Good Friday I decided to shake things up a bit and teach Kyle how to do another household chore.  First I’d like to say, I’m not proud we were working on Good Friday but regardless we were.  Not only is it a major benefit to get the household work done, but I like to use chore as a learning lesson as well.  Children need to be taught how to do even the most basic of things and they need to be showed what is expected of them.  I asked Kyle to go in the bathroom, sort the dirty cloths and take them to the laundry room to start washing.  I gave a very basic lesson on sorting the items based on color, and I even gave pretty detailed instructions on how I would approach the job.  Kyle was surprisingly attentive to my instructions and turned to me and said, “Ok Aunt Heather, but can I try it my way first?”  His brain was already assessing the situation and came up with a better solution to tackling the problem.  I said, “Have at it buddy, if you need help let me know.”

That kid was on fire.  He instantly took to his responsibility and dove head first into the dirty laundry, literally. Now keep in mind, I think we had an entire clothing section of a department store in the hamper, since mom threw out her back and I don’t think prior to that, she ever had the laundry caught up.  What really surprised me was Kyle’s willingness to work at the job alone and his determination to finish it up for mom.  He really truly wanted to help out and contribute to the house in preparation for Easter and this was his job and he was taking it to heart.

The only time Kyle really needed any assistance is deciding what the temperature should be used for each load and the amount of laundry soap needed.  At one point he proudly showed me his process he created for himself.  He said, “Look Aunt Heather, there are cloths in the washer, the dryer is almost done, I have a basket of clean wet cloths ready to go in the dryer and when that washer is done, I’ll put those in this basket.”  All I could say was, “Wow!  buddy you have everything organized.  Don’t let me step in your way, but let me know if you need any help.”

Dad & Larry cleaning snapping turtles while Kyle and Nich assist 7/10/09

Eventually, as he worked his way through the laundry, we noticed the baskets of clean dry cloths needed folded, again I don’t think Kyle has ever done that in his life.  I showed him to fold T-shirts and well, let’s just say he needs a little practice.  But we all started pitching in, mom and Nicole would fold the full baskets of laundry and me Kyle would fold some of the cloths coming out of the dryer.  Then after mom and Nicole were done with their piles, Kyle would run the folded laundry to the respected bedrooms.  Taking advantage of this situation, I had Kyle put away his own cloths the he wanted, so he could start taking ownership of his apparel, instead of us having to hand him his cloths to wear.

Kyle took this responsibility very seriously.  Saturday morning, Kyle told me he wanted to get up early so he could try and finish the laundry before we left for his baseball practice.  He didn’t quite make his deadline, so he gave my mom direction on what to do, like she’s never done laundry before in her life.  I laughed, he gave her specific instructions on what to do and how to do it, so the laundry fiasco can be wrapped up in his absence.  I’ve said it before on a number of occasions, Kyle can delegate!

I must say what seemed like a huge burden became a fun family event.  After Kyle took the lead we followed suit to help him out.  And not once did I hear Kyle complain or whine.  He didn’t wait around for anyone to help him out or tell him what to do.  Yep, he impresses me every day.

This laundry responsibility has since spilled over to the following weekends.  This past weekend was no different.  He shot straight back to the laundry room and picked up where he left off, doing the weeks laundry for mom and dad.  At one point, dad wanted to go to the grocery store or shoot guns or something, but Kyle felt he had another responsibility at that moment.  While dad stood at the door yelling for Kyle to hurry up and get ready, Kyle came around the corner of the laundry room saying, “I am pappy, I had laundry I needed to put in the dryer and I had to put another load in the washer!”  I lost it!  That was too funny and to tell my dad about his laundry, a man who I don’t think has washed a load of cloths in his life.  Dad just stood there, impatiently, and rolled his eyes.  Although I thought I spotted a slight grin on his face.  Gotta love Kyle’s persistence and taking ownership of his assigned task.  Good job buddy!  Next I’ll have to get you this excited about folding the cloths.

Published inCommon SenseEducation & LearningFamilyObservation & Imagination

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