Worth a Repeat

While reading through some old blog posts, I decided this one from July 23, 2009, was worth a repeat. So once more.. "Just a Clean Kitchen...Or is It?



We had one of our usually busy days yesterday. I'd gone to an early morning yoga class, put finishing touches on our bathroom remodel, evaluated and gave suggestions to a 10 year old girl who wanted some help with her speech, had a call from a dear friend from Texas that I miss so much and talked 1 1/2 hours, visited with another friend and her son who came by so that Brenna could help her daughter learn to throw on the pottery wheel, watched Logan play a bit of Rock Band, danced at Zumba, dropped Logan off at his cousin's house, picked up a few groceries for dinner, watched my favorite show, "So You Think You Can Dance", picked Logan up during a commercial break, talked to Broc who is in Maryland at sales meetings all week and watched Brenna putting some finishing touches on some pottery pieces.

It was 10:00 and we were hungry! Brenna requested waffles so while listening to Rock Band and talking with Brenna, I made up some batter. The table and kitchen counter top were covered with clay and pots and I was so busy talking that I tried to put the waffle batter into the George Foreman Grill (which in our house should be called the Grilled Cheese Sandwich Grill because that's the only thing we ever use it for). I finally got the appliance right and the first batch of waffles oozed out on the counter which was fun to watch but made a huge mess! There were dishes from the whole day and then strawberries and bananas and maple syrup and whipped cream and nuts and then after we ate, all those dishes and the mess the dog had made while she was eating all over the floor!

The kitchen looked like right after all the guests have gone home from a large party but it was 11:00 and I still needed to get on Facebook :-), so I hugged the kids and headed to bed thinking that I would clean it up in the morning.



This is what I saw first thing when I stumbled (well I didn't really stumble but it makes for a good story) into the kitchen this morning to make some coffee and read the newspaper. There's the newspaper and the coffee right there on the table and now my laptop is here and I'm happily writing this quite lengthy post instead of cleaning the kitchen.

The only two people home besides me are my teenagers, Brenna and Logan, and one or both of them took the time to clean the kitchen late last night. These are kids who haven't had chores for 7 years! They live in harmony with their parents and 3 animals and they choose without any
rules or demands to help keep our home enjoyable to live in. No one raises their voices here unless it's to be heard over the sound of a game in the next room. There are never slamming doors or sneaking around or angry outbursts. We all like each other and enjoy our time together.

Which brings me to why I was thinking about this very thing yesterday. A Facebook Friend (someone who I know only from a homeschool co-op we used to go to) had a status update yesterday that I commented on because it made me a little crazy and I'm bringing it here without the names....

**************

(Parent 1) Is there an easier way to get teenagers to clean


(Parent 1) Believe it or not I have actually done that! It was a few years ago. I am not just talking about their rooms though. I mean the HOUSE. They leave crap wherever it lands. I have asked them to clean this morning and they are meandering around. Oh yeah.. and for door slamming I have taken the door off the hinges! I am a mean mom. But it's all in love, right?

(Parent 3)is there such a thing as "cleaning teenagers?"


(Parent 4) haha funny....i remember one of my friends losing her bedroom door for a year for sneaking a boy through her window!

(Parent 1) That's what the alarm system is for! haha!

So the trashing of teens was bothering me enough that I posted this knowing that it really wouldn't make any impact....

Gail Batchelor Higgins
If you are really asking.....What's worked for us.....joyfully cleaning ourselves and treating our kids with the same trust and respect we would any adult friend...It's a win/win. Teens who are respectful and help out because they are trusted and valued....it's not a popular viewpoint around here but I wouldn't trade the relationship I have with my kids because of it for anything in the world....


(Parent 4) Well, my 2 year old cleans up and the 8 month old twins are in training!!!LOL!! What the heck!?!?!? The other 5 definitely know what time it is! They can do NOTHING they want to do until it's clean. They already know this, so there really isn't much discussion about it anymore.
If they don't comply, the chauffering stops and the gadgets get locked up until it's done!
"There's not enough time?" .....get up earlier!
"We're too tired!" .....stop staying up late!
What is really going on?!?!? There's a whole lot of things to remove from a teenagers life, so you've got TONS of leverage!!! There's going to be a million things in life you don't feel like doing, you better get over it now! Not to mention the spiritual aspects of obedience and discipline....

(Parent 5) I am quick to remind mine....."Hey, I cleaned up for a long time before any of you could do much to help"
Sorry...I kinda went off...LOL!!!! You hit a nerve, I've seen too many lazy, selfish, and disrespectful teenagers

(Parent 6) Parent 4, I think i should send my kids over to you for a week! heheh

And then Parent 1 (the only parent that I know, posted this)

(Parent 1) Gail, I totally hear you and wish I knew how to put that into real practice! I just get so irritated when I ask them to do something and they say they don't want to and it's usually something they messed up anyway.
Name of Parent 4 here, you are outrageous girl! I do take the stuff away if they don't do what I ask them to. I just want to get to the day when I ...don't have to make those threats to get them to move. That they will just do what needs to be done.
But I have to remember we are talking about teenagers and even myself as an adult has a hard time doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done

*******************
A BIT OF RANTING HERE IN CASE YOU WANT TO SKIP IT!

So there it is. I know I'm in the South. I know that these attitudes about teens are pervasive but excuse me, these people have these amazing children in their lives and they treat them with disrespect and expect them to be their maids? I think Parent 1 has teens that have been homeschooled but are all going back to school. I'd probably go back to school if any of these people were my parents and move out the first possible moment! I have a teenage stepdaughter that lives in a house like this AND I know she can't wait to move out.....Hope I don't step on any toes here but seriously people...Get a CLUE!!

RANT OVER.....

So back to my story.... I haven't always been a parent who trusts her children. When the kids were young, I had chore lists and arbitrary rules and bedtimes and food restrictions and I could see the damage it was doing to my kids and our relationship. It was easy to be a traditional rule- based parent and I was good at and could have justified it all day long. But, why would you continue doing something that is damaging your relationship with your children just because you're surrounded by people who are doing it?

I had a choice. I could continue on that path or find another way to parent. I chose trust and found a way through radical unschooling to become a parent who values the relationship I have with my kids much more than obedience. I value them as the amazing individuals that I live with too much to force them through rules or punishment to do things like clean the kitchen, mow the lawn, feed the dog, make your bed, eat your vegetables, go to bed because I think it's time, be in by 12:00 sharp because at 12:01 you are grounded!!

Trust was the key. It lead to caring deeply for each other and love and mutual respect and lots of fun and laughter. I've gone on and on and I know for the most part I'm preaching to the choir here but sometimes something happens and it just hits you and makes you thankful for your life and your kids and and the laughter and the fun and the friends around the world who have chosen this lifestyle too...

I wouldn't have minded getting up this morning and happily cleaning the kitchen thinking about the fun evening we had last night but.....

...... take a look at that picture again.......

Just sayin......:-)




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