Thursday, July 05, 2012
The Summer Plan
I told the kids I wasn't reminding them about their jobs anymore. They know the system by now--follow the plan and earn time on the computer or wii, then have the rest of the day to play. If they don't follow the plan, they don't earn anything, and have to stay home until it's done. The plan includes getting dressed, a few lame jobs, practicing (the piano or a sport, depending on lessons) and reading. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday include the additional 'get in the tub' step (which, may seem like a small thing to ask, but continues to bring violent protests when it shows up). At most, the plan should take an hour and a half to complete.
The plan is organized to be its own motivator: Do your stuff = get a reward. Don't do it = stay home, no reward. But somehow, I'm still the motivating force behind their productivity. So after a month of prodding and pleading, (putting forks away isn't hard. Just put them in the drawer. or All you have to do is put your clothes on and you can mark a box off. Just put on a pair of shorts and a shirt!) I've given up reminding. I'm going to let the plan do its own job.
Tuesday I tested out my resolve. Not long into Tuesday, I became super mad. At 2:00 pm the kids were still not even close to finishing the tasks (getting dressed can be such a bear!). Hazel made her bed, but just couldn't face the pile of laundry that she was assigned to fold. Parley unloaded the dishes, but felt it a serious injustice that he still had to make his bed and put his pajamas back in his drawer. Julian, who is always terrible at jobs, hadn't done anything.
As time went on, I became more mad. And it was taking everything I had not to go in and point out (loudly) that their jobs weren't hard and Don't they know that so-and-so down the street does a lot more jobs and maybe they'd like to trade? I wanted them to know that if they would've started immediately, they would've been done three hours ago. I held strong and didn't say a word.
The plan was not doing its job. If only, I thought, someone invited them to do something really fun, and they couldn't go because they weren't finished yet. Wouldn't that just be the thing I need? But who? And what?
And then Jed, who was away most of the morning, came home. And I smiled a grinchy smile.
I sent him in with a proposition of going to a movie together. The hypothetical movie was to start in fifteen minutes. And at a crucial moment, just as it was sinking in, he was to add this important qualifier: "Did you guys finish all the things you need to do so we can go?"
I wish you could have been there to see Jed's proposition. The panic and the tears and the cries of, "which movie is it?" Jed and I muffled the chuckles well. And as I looked over the beauty of the scene, it hushed my angry mind, and assured me that the plan will work. Tomorrow we might be heading to the water park, the next day we could surely have plans to go to Lagoon. This plan will work.