That realization slapped me in the face the other night when I asked my 8 year old to grab a dish cloth from the kitchen. I watched him walk into the kitchen and look aimlessly around. He had no clue, after living in this house for 6 years of his life, where the dish cloths were. When I finally directed him to the right drawer, he proceeded to wet the cloth and then instead of ringing it out, he just carried the wet dripping cloth across the floor to me and thought nothing at all of it. He had never been given this experience before, therefore it was not apart of his schema.
That night, the pillow talk in my house was all about what we can do to prepare these little boys of ours to be independent, capable and helpful men. Don't get me wrong, they definitely do help us with some things, they drag their laundry baskets to the laundry and they help us sort their laundry a few times a week. They help us put their clothes away when the laundry is done and they help to feed the dog every day too. There is so much more that they could be doing though, or at least experiences we could be providing them so that they are prepared to accomplish tasks independently.
What we need to do (Nick and I), is to be conscious all the time while we are taking care of jobs around the house thinking of how we can include the boys in the execution. How can they be helping? This is the question that just needs to be on our minds at all times throughout the day. They may not be able to actually pack themselves a healthy, sufficient lunch but they sure can participate in the process by getting out the containers, pulling food out of the fridge and actually physically putting their lunch bags in their backpacks each day. They can also be in charge of emptying their backpacks after school and putting things back where they belong. They can be helping to fold laundry, starting with things like socks and towels (the easy stuff). They can set the table, clear the table, empty the dishwasher and help with every day household chores.
We also need to put it on them 100% when it involves an extracurricular activity. Take hockey, for example, why we have been setting out wet and stinky hockey equipment that we don't use or play with is beyond me. That is now on them, if they want to play the sport, they need to be in charge of the equipment and gosh dang it remember their own water bottle before a practice or game!
I am finding myself now thinking of so many ways they can be helpful contributors in our household and it makes me excited for them! I don't want to come across like a super tough parent, and I don't want to be too hard on them, but I do think it's important for them to be independent, problem solving men and some day if they are blessed enough to share their lives with significant others, those lucky significants will be very grateful for them and their abilities to take care of things and be equal task performing members of their households. And if they choose to live a life of sole independence, then they'll be prepared to do so.
I want them to be proud of themselves for what they can do and I want them to be able to do it on their own because not only is it rewarding but it feels good too! I don't want them to need anyone else but it would be great for them to be needed. So here we go, we might be taking more time on tasks but that's because our little boys are becoming men! Wish us luck!