What we’ve been doing these school holidays or … Perfectionism, entitled kids and why it’s time to break out the “good” china …

The school holidays are, for me, honestly the best time of year to be truly reflective. And by now you know, I do love a bit of reflection. These holidays we’ve done a whole lot of reading, some painting, and a whole lot of weeding! Our spot is two acres of bliss on which to experience the verses in Genesis 3 that relate to the thistles, thorns and “the sweat of your brow”.

It’s been a great break — yes, I know we have one week left before it’s back to school for a student-free week – but the anxiety dreams have started, so that’s a pretty good indication that my brain is getting back into work mode again. But before that happens, I’m going to have a bit of a look back, and a bit of a look forward to the year ahead. I know I’m a bit late with this, all the serious people out in blogger-land did that over a week ago. I’m already behind! I am a little fearful of the idea of making a resolution of any kind, I figured that last week’s entry about living now – was as close as I could get to a new years resolution – and vague enough for me to achieve it on some level. 😉

So how’s the perfectionism going? Well, I think since I’ve become aware of the fact that I could quite possibly be a percussionist (had to leave that autocorrect gem in there for you – overcoming perfectionism one autocarrot at a time) I’ve been trying very hard to reduce my expectations on self and others.

We trialled the 11, 12 and 13 year olds doing their own washing and hanging it out. More to give them a taste of what it is like and why we are inclined to tell them that, ideally, in order for clothes to need to be washed they have to have seen more action than a couple of hours after school that were spent; inside working on homework, doing a couple of chores and a quick session outside of about 20-30 mins. We also dared to question how it was that some clothes appeared in the washing pile neatly folded suggesting that, perhaps, after they had been folded from the previous washing, the contact they’d had with human skin was minimal, and that these particular items might not need to be washed so much as put away in the cupboard.

After they’d had a couple of attempts at washing their own clothes, they decided that perhaps wearing clothes for less than three hours didn’t actually render them dirty, and merely looking at something (no matter how dirty the look was) didn’t mean it had to be placed in the laundry hamper.

The outcome of the whole experiment was that, perhaps, predictably, perfectionism trumped all-comers once again. I couldn’t look for too long at our normally proud and ordered Hills hoist clothes line. The way to best describe what it became is, dishevelled. Items of clothing were strewn on it, hurled over it, some were bunched and wrapped around the wire rendering the use of clothes pegs redundant. There were a few, precious few items, that had, miraculously, been pegged onto the line. But even that was not a sight of joy as it was quickly discovered that a t-shirt that has been pegged on one corner with 3/4 of the garment still bunched up inside itself, won’t dry properly, and would have to be washed again if it was put away (stuffed into a drawer) in that state. The complaints about not having any clothes to wear because the washing hadn’t been done yet, (despite the fact that it had been done a few days earlier) all but dried up. So I think we all learned a valuable lesson there! I’m not too sure what it was for each of us … but I do feel like I did learn something!
Back to the question of how the perfectionism is going – well I’m able to laugh at it, so that’s a positive, right?

We’ve been trying to get them to get involved around the place especially after reading a few great articles about raising children/teens/young adults the age of entitlement.

  1. The first shall be last : foreverymom.com 
  2. Eternal youth – an article that explores the idea that a generation or two have never really “grown up”.
  3. There’s also a book out – by one of my favourite bloggers/writers Kristen Welch who writes at wearethatfamily.com. I haven’t read it yet – but you know I will – might help with the days ahead.
  4. And this one which I have read.. How to Raise Selfless Kids in a Self Centered World

The amazing thing is how different the three kids here are when it comes to work. The girl loves to work outside – loves it – the boys not so much. One boy lives to perform about having to do any work at all. He seems to be under the impression things should be done for him – not by him – if it’s worth doing then someone else will do it. The other boy is less vocal about his disdain for outdoor work in particular, but is still passively resistant at times (wonder where he got that from?) They are all quite different kids – we’ve kind of got them pegged for now anyway, personality wise – this is a great resource (here) if you are interested in that kind of stuff.

Anyhow, the second boy I mentioned, and I had a big chat a week or two ago. The fact that he turns 13 this year kind of scared me a little – I’ve listened, read and seen enough to know that it is important for boys in particular, to have purpose, to be physically doing useful things around this age and onwards and to be contributing, all of this in the hope that he will be a contributor later in life. So that’s the goal. I’m not foolish enough to think that this will remove all the issues, behavioural or otherwise that we are likely to encounter in the future, and I’m quite aware that I could look back on this in several years (or months) time and be red-faced by how “together” I thought I had it!
Remember I’m nothing if not self aware…

That boy came in a while ago and said, “I understand what Scott means by hard work now!!” IMG_6498.JPG
Talk about music to my ears!
Of course, the beautiful note faded about 20 mins later as I heard a conversation taking place in the backyard, but he’s getting there. He loves his stepdad, he wants approval, he’s happy to learn and he’s mostly happy to work – especially if there’s the possibility of financial gain at the end of it.

We are encouraging them to work for the family, to help each other, which will hopefully translate to the girl “waiting” on her brother less, and in him learning that it’s good to do things for people …

We’ve all got areas that we need to improve on, always, not one of us is perfect just yet!

So what am I going to do about living more in the now – my first step in that direction is to begin using some of this stuff.
IMG_6508-1

What’s the use in having beautiful things that I don’t use. I love beautiful things – some one worked hard to buy me those beautiful things – maybe the best way to say thank you is to use the beautiful things?
Well, maybe after we get a dishwasher. (Side note: Did you know that some perfectionist’s procrastinate?)

I’m not sure how I’d cope with the kids washing these when it’s their turn to do the dishes.

Well to be honest, after the clothes line incident, I am pretty certain how I’d cope and it definitely wouldn’t be beautiful.

’til next time lovely readers…

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