Chores are no fun, I know. But in giving Namine things to be responsible for – like keeping her room clean, and sweeping the kitchen – we hope to provide a basis for establishing work ethic.
I’ve never made Namine help me put the dishes away. Jessica and I encourage helping to make dinner, to which Namine always responds with a resounding “yes!” But I’ve never told her that she has to clean the dishes, nor have I told to her help load or unload the dishwasher. She came to that all by herself.
A common yet oft-ignored rule of cooking is “clean as you cook.” The perfect time to wash dishes is while dinner is cooking, especially if it’s something you don’t have to watch with eagle eyes. I try to take that time to unload the dishwasher of its clean dishes, often while listening to music. It’s usually something that gets me moving, like Rise Against, Skillet, or Metallica. It was the music that first drew Namine from the living room, where she would be playing, drawing, or watching TV.
I provided the example for Namine that it’s okay to enjoy yourself while doing chores. They don’t have to be drudgery. I have told Namine many times, because I want her to understand:
There is much that happens in life that we cannot control. What we can always control is our reaction to what happens.
I believe it’s important enough to repeat. And it’s had an effect, but not just my words. It’s my example by action that inspired her to want to help, too.
So when I’m in the kitchen, doing dishes because dinner is cooking (or even after dinner, when there’s nothing left to do but wash the dishes), Namine is in there with me, doing her part. She can’t reach the counter from the floor, of course, but she helps.
I don’t mean Namine helps like when your kid says “Daddy, I’m helping!” as she proceeds to tear apart everything you ever loved. I truly do mean that she helps. I put the silverware drawer on the floor, and she puts them all away. She hands me spatulas, ladles and knives for the countertop containers and blocks. She matches up all of her medical cups and syringes. She and I do the dishes together, cutting down the time I would have otherwise spent doing it alone, thus giving us more time to spend playing and reading together.
Chores are no fun. They never will be. But we can make them a more enjoyable, if we try. We can use them as a way to spend a little more time with each other. We can spend that time being sullen, or we can fill that time with smiles and laughter.