Sarah Bowman: Michelle's intention is clearly to keep her girls as regular as the rest of us. But, I suspect there are an appalling number of us normal folk who think of making beds as a chore from a bygone era. My kids regularly feed the dogs, help out with meals, and take in an elderly neighbor's trash bins. I just can't seem to get them to care about making their beds. Neither went to a camp that instilled the habit in them, and in their formative years, I was downstairs, whipping up banana pancakes and hollering instead for teeth to be brushed and backpacks readied.
Each June, I hold my kids' flip-flopped feet to the fire, and for the first few days of summer, they enthusiastically shake out the comforter and punch their pillows into shape. My optimism about their future soars, and I imagine them starting a micro-lending business before they're eighteen. But a single lazy, sleep-in Saturday morning is my nemesis, and I find myself straightening the sheets even as the kids are packing their own lunches for camp. Should I kiss my dreams of the Ivy League goodbye?
Mine are "regular" teens, with a schedule of academic, athletic, and social obligations that would exhaust a political handler. In fact, what I really need is a staffer who can fit a precious thirty seconds into their ridiculously stuffed routine so they can shake out a down comforter. We've all been told that regular chores are key to instilling a sturdy self-reliance in kids. Despite my shortcomings as a taskmaster, I'm beginning to think that the real objective is a lot simpler: perhaps chores are merely meant to lighten the parental load. Every parent has a tone of voice that can make a child do something odious. Maybe Michelle hates to make hospital corners, but I like to save that imperative growl for taking out the garbage.
|Sarah Bowman is the Co-Founder of Kids Off the Couch.com. She has a BA in Semiotics from Brown University, worked in the film business as a studio executive before becoming a writer. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, and two teenagers.|