"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." - Mother Teresa

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Before I ramble on about Joy's day in charge, let me just take a moment to extol the virtues of intentional parenting. What is intentional parenting? It means that you plan and do things for a reason; you don't just react to what comes your way. It takes more work, but the results are well worth the investment.

Joy. When I got up this morning, I went down to find that Joy had already changed Brigham's diaper and got him dressed. Yes, he did have some play-clothes on, but those were over his normal clothes. Joy decided that she wanted pancakes for breakfast, so I sat at the counter and gave instructions while she cooked. And, even though it took her an hour from start to finish, she got it done. Although some were a little lumpy from not quite getting turned over all the way, none were burned and only a few were slightly underdone. She did a good job with setting the table, and got the boys' bibs on and brought them to the table. I must admit that I was concerned with how well she was doing. The point was for her to realize how much work it is, not to just breeze through things. After breakfast, she went to the planner and planned the day. We had quilt group, and she didn't argue about the necessity of going there. But, after naps, she had us at the park for three hours and then a picnic dinner before bed. After planning came the work. She was supposed to empty the dishwasher and load the breakfast dishes, but it took her about an hour of dawdling before it was time to go to quilt group. So, when we got home, she made lunch (bread with jelly and pieces of cheese), and while I put the boys to bed, she did the dishes. Joy is definitely old enough to start doing the dishes, I was really impressed with how well she did.

Okay, I guess you don't really need a blow-by-blow account of the day. She did choose to watch a movie during quiet time, something she doesn't usually get to do. And, when a friend came over to play, Joy told her what was going on. The friend thought it sounded great and thought Joy should do it every other day. "NO! It's too much work!" was Joy's immediate response. We did go to the park, but when we got home, Joy realized that we didn't have time to do a picnic dinner. So, waffles at home were her choice. Again, she made them herself while I sat at the counter and read. And, they were great waffles. All seemed to be going well. Although, at one point in the day, she asked me to help and I sassed back about it. She looked at me with defeated eyes at that point. Anyway, back to dinner. So, all was well until about halfway through dinner when John told Joy that four helpings of whipped cream with her waffles was too much. She just looked at him with sad eyes and her chin started to quiver. Behind my hand I reminded him that Joy was in charge. He apologized and told her he had forgotten and she could have what she wanted. Her chin still quivered, but she pulled it together. After dinner, I told her that, after the boys went to bed, she would be responsible for dinner dishes. I expected her to be excited about the chance to stay up later, but she wasn't. John asked what she needed us to do to help, and she asked him to clear the table. "Do you usually clear the dinner table?" (She is supposed to, but it doesn't usually happen.) "No, I usually argue." So, I suggested to John that he needed to argue. He said, "Um, do I have to do it? Um, maybe I could just, you know, go outside and play for a while." Joy looked at him, turned around, and walked out of the room. She went to the stairs and just cried, "It's just too much!" She was obviously worn out and couldn't handle the emotional strain anymore. So, John went and comforted her (since he did the teasing.) We told her to get her jammies on, and she said, "Dad, could I please be done being in charge?" We discussed it, and decided that she had done a good job, and could be done.

After jammies were on, we did a little debrief of the day. When we asked what Joy had learned, she said that she needed to help more and not argue; she needed to serve more, and that Mom really did a lot. Later, after I went to YW and John was laying down with her, he asked how the day had gone. "It was a lot harder than I thought." When John inquired what she meant, she said, "I thought I would be like a queen who could just sit around and tell people what to do, and they would bring me things and stuff." Ah, it was worth it. I would do this again in a heartbeat! In order to be successful, you really have to let them do EVERYTHING they feasibly can do. I took the stuff with the boys she really couldn't, but otherwise, she did everything. And, a little arguing like they do helps them to understand your frustration when they do it.


Lyndee said...

sounds like things went well maybe I should do that with caden! :)

Erin said...

Wow, I'mimpressed it went so well!!
I do have to say, What are you doing during the day that Joy thinks you just get everything brought to you? It's all a act,right? The being so busy,huh? I knew it, hehehe!!

Actually I still remember thinking Mom had so many kids so she would have people to do her work!! How little we know when we're little and how quickly we learn when we're older!!!!

Celeste said...

That's such a great idea! It's great she did so well and it's even greater that she realized that moms don't get to be queens all day! I think I'm going to have to remember this in a couple years for Frances!

Chivaun-o-rama said...

This pales in comparison to listening to you with the facial expressions and everything... ;)