Thursday, April 12, 2012

Daddy Doesn't Jump

I can say, with all honesty, that my children are amazing, not perfect, but amazing. They are helpful, kind, thoughtful, and loving; and, with the exception of our occasional Jonah and the Whale type days, I hardly ever have to raise my voice at them. 

However, I have recently learned that despite my compliments to my children, I have still been selling them short. They are even more brilliant than I realized. You see, at the young ages of 4 and 2 (almost 3) they have learned how to work the system, and Mommy has a system.

It's no secret, I like things done a certain way. I try to include the kids in work around the house, but it normally only creates more work for me while I have to undo all the "chores" they have done. About a year ago, I felt it was important that they begin learning how to make their own beds. I started with Elijah, the oldest, teaching him how to pull up his blankets, and put his pillows and animals all on the bed. He had seen me do it hundreds of times, and he seemed eager to learn. Great! Easy Peasy. He was eager for maybe the first week, but then he grew anxious to get to his toys and play with his sister. Plus there was an added bonus. He knew that on bath mornings, Mommy would make the beds while they splashed in the tub, just to save time, and he couldn't help but notice how quickly it got done when Mommy did it.

Then there was the matter of getting pajamas on. We began allowing the children to get themselves ready for bed, at least for the most part. At first they were both very excited about doing it themselves. Oh the buttons and zippers are endless fun! Then it occurred to them what exactly this little night time ritual meant. It meant bedtime. For the most part I would get them ready for bed, or do the prompting anyway, while Jelani had school work to finish up or studying to do. Occasionally though, there would be a night when Jelani would take over, and I couldn't help but notice how quickly things got done.

Similarly, the mornings that Jelani has tended to them, the beds have been made without hesitation.

It didn't make sense.

Dinners without Daddy usually meant me prompting every bite.

"Take a bite."
"Sit still."
"Don't play with your fork."
"Don't yell at the table!"
 There are many times I just get sick of sitting at the table, and I begin shoveling the food into their mouths for them, just so we can all just leave the dining room for goodness sake!

But with Daddy, dinners always go much more smoothly. Less squirming and chatter; more chewing.

Last night, I told the kids to get ready for bed. They whined about it, but slowly headed off to their room to change. After half a dozen yells from them to me about one thing or another, I went in there to find Elijah with an unbuttoned pajama top, and Chastity with her arms in her one-piece, footie pajamas, but with the legs of the pjs flying behind her as she ran down the hall screaming, "I need help!" I had had enough! I looked right at them, and in my toughest mommy voice, yelled "Why is it that when I ask you to do something, you suddenly can't remember how to do it? Something Daddy has you do by yourselves in 5 minutes, won't get done without my help in less than 10!"

In a matter of seconds, I realized that they can make their own beds, and in a timely fashion. They can dress themselves; also in a timely fashion. They can feed themselves; a timely fashion.

They just looked confused (or caught), and I had answered my own question.

When Mommy says "Jump," they whine that they don't know how to, until Mommy finally just jumps for them so that it gets done.

When Daddy says "Jump," they say "How high?" Daddy doesn't jump.

The trick is being more stubborn than the kids, and Mommy thinks she likes Daddy's system better. 


  1. Just so you know, I've been thinking about this post since you wrote it. I've found myself "jumping" for the kids I nanny occasionally and whenever I do I have to dial it back and remind myself that this isn't teaching them anything. There is a time to help them do things, especially if they're still learning, but when you KNOW it's something they are perfectly capable of doing... no jumping! I even say that to myself in my head "don't jump!" haha I love your funny encouraging blogs :)

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you can relate. I catch myself from time to time "jumping" merely because I get impatient and know it will just be faster if I do it myself. I'm still working on that. :)