Car washing and yard work are not my favorite things. So that means dear Ryan is on his own when it comes to a clean car or weeded flower beds. Trent has taken on yard mowing as one of his chores this year and he does a fine job.
So Ryan and Trent take care of the mowing, edging and blowing and I do the laundry, clutter pick up, and shopping. We share the cleaning and cooking. Seems pretty equitable to me.
A few times this past year, Ryan has asked for some help with the yard and I pretended I didn't hear him. He asked a few weeks ago and I answered in my most whiny voice, "But it's HOT outside!"
Last week, Ryan had asked Trent to get the yard mowed. By early evening the yard still wasn't done. Ryan reminded Trent, who didn't really feel like doing it. He was tired, he said, and would rather do it in the morning. The problem was, he hadn't done it in the morning and he was being asked to do it now. Trent chose to complain and stomp upstairs for a nap. Without yelling or even raising his voice, Ryan went out back and pulled out the mower. I thought, "Uh-oh." I met Ryan outside and offered to do the mowing, but he politely declined.
At the sound of the mower running in the front yard, Trent came flying down the stairs. "Why is Dad mowing? I was going to do it, I was just getting on my shoes. Now he's gonna be MAD."
I summoned up my best Love & Logic response, empathy first. "That's a bummer. We had no way of knowing that. Now Dad is doing your job since you didn't want to. I'm sure there will be a consequence, but we'll have to discuss it. We'll let you know. Try not to worry."
I was ready to walk away from my pitiful, grumbling, complaining man-boy until I heard these words: "Mom, I messed up. How can I fix this?" Ahhh..music to my ears.
I suggested he go outside and say these words to his dad and ask what else he could do to help. I could tell he was a little stuck, so I went outside with him and together we talked to his dad. Ryan said, "Well, I could use some help weeding the front flower beds."
Relieved, Trent ran around to the front and began helping. I was pondering the magic formula for raising helpful kids. It isn't rocket science - we just model being helpful. When we catch them doing their chores, we say, "Would you like some help with that?" and we help. They watch us being helpful and learn to be helpful. This was the perfect opportunity to put that into practice. I called for Chloe to come to the front and help us.
We began to work together on the jungly,
overgrown flower beds.
As we beagan to make headway,
before I knew it,
we were smiling,
we were joking,
and we were laughing.
We were also dirty and beyond hot,
soaked clean through
from our efforts in 105 degree heat.
We gathered up the demon weeds, filling up two black garbage bags, while Chloe swept the sidewalk and street. After we picked up all our tools and deposited them in the garage, we all jumped in the pool with our clothes on. We splashed around together, cooling our bodies and feeling the pride of our family accomplishment.
I basked in the joy
of a family working together,
of helping ease the way for father and son to communicate,
of connection restored.
Holy time, even among weeds.