20 January 2011

As part of the Resolution Revolution we have been trying to expand the things that Cha Cha can be expected to do on her own. The theory is that by encouraging her to do these things, with much resulting accolade, she will eventually be molded into an actual, functioning human being. It is pretty simple in theory, and in practice it is also quite easy but, (and there is always a "but" with kids) the hard bit is deciding the things with which she can be tasked.

Choosing just what a 3.5 year old can be expected to do is a complicated algorithm involving:

  • Tasks that are traditionally age-appropriate.
  • Tasks that are age appropriate for that specific child (heaven knows no two are alike!)
  • Tasks that fall into the reasonable realm of safety.
  • Tasks that meet above criteria and can be done with the current equipment/set-up in your house.
  • Tasks that you have the patience to fight over.
  • Tasks that once done by said child do not create even more stress and work for the adults involved.

It is this last point that Chris and I often don't see eye-to-eye. It is not a situation where anyone is right or wrong, it merely illustrates how differently we see some parenting choices. We had a long, and winding, discussion about it all and I think we both learned a lot.

Chris often genuinely doesn't understand the far-reaching impact of the choices we make about these tasks. Sure it is a swell idea to let Cha Cha get her own cereal when it is 9am on a Saturday and we have all the time in the world. It is not okay for her to be having a fit about wanting to pour her own milk from the full gallon jug when we are trying to get out the door to an appointment. Some things need to be done by the adults for safety and expediency, even if they are things that could be done by the child. This is something you may not fully "get" if you are not doing the SAHP/WAHP thing.

On the flip side, I often do many things for Cha Cha that she could be doing herself because I am not willing to deal with the fall-out. I don't want to clean up the mess, I don't want to deal with her then arguing, endlessly, about doing it her way and I don't want to "waste" the time letting her do it her way. I am often letting my own control freak tendencies get in the way. This I something that I don't think you can fully "get" when you are doing the SAHP/WAHP thing because you are too deep in the minutiae.

After much discussion I was finally able to pinpoint my real goal for this venture. I just want to avoid the hysterics. I am more than willing to do things for you as needed, help you do things you want to do, pretty much provide whatever your little heart desires, but please, for the love of all that is holy…stop with the theatrics. She needs to do things on her own as a method of empowering her to not panic. At the end of the day, it probably doesn't matter much what jobs she is assigned, just that she is held somewhat responsible for herself and that will hopefully help us end this period of high drama. We added a few "rules" to the previous list and agreed on some more things she can probably be expected to do. I am also promising to loosen up a bit and just accept that in order to get her behaving like a real person, I am going to have to deal with some aggravation that I would normally choose to avoid.

See what you can learn if you just talk?


Ginger said...

You totally described my husband and I in a lot of things. Take dinner time. I'm more willing to let Jackson make a mess while he figures out the spoon, and a bowl, and feeding himself. N.C. though, can rarely handle the mess/slowness that comes from letting J do it himself.
Some of that is that my husband is a little OCD about food messes, but you bring up an interesting point about the different roles we may take on based on the WAHD/WOHM thing (god, I hate those acronyms).