Thursday, June 9, 2011

Stumbling into responsibility . . . literally.

My wife and I recently decided to give my son more responsibility around the house, I mean seriously, the kid is five and bringing in absolutely zero income into our household, it’s about time he contributes something, right? All kidding aside, we have been kicking around the idea of giving him more chores in order to give him a sense of responsibility.

We started with some simple chores, picking up his room (a traditional childhood chore that I never seemed to fully grasp) and cleaning all the window sills once a week. He has been tremendously successful doing that, in fact, the windows have been looking wonderfully due to his diligence. Even better, he has done this work with minimal coercion on our part and minimal complaining on his.

Knowing that his success offered us an opportunity to expand his responsibilities even further, we decided to offer a more serious chore – taking care of the family dog, Tucker. Now, this was potentially tricky, you see, his failure to complete this daily task would result in more work for me. For example, forgetting to take the dog out one day would inevitably lead to Tucker having an “accident” on our bed which would result in major cleaning in the Ryerson household. So you can imagine my trepidation on this next step, although his track record with new chores was excellent.

I pondered this increased work load as I cleaned out the barn. From our barn, I could see the front door of the house and at about that time, I heard the front door slam shut. I looked up and watched my growing boy step down from the front porch and slowly make his way toward the barn. He crossed the yard and came to the small kiddie pool that we had filled earlier in the day as a cool treat for the children. As he passed the pool, he reached down to dip his hand into the water. Somehow, this pushed his little frame off balance; he stumbled, tripped, and started falling in the opposite direction, away from the pool until he was almost ten feet from his original position of stooping to reach the water.

As I watched, I was tickled by the fact that this all seemed to be happening in slow motion. However, this wasn’t the end of the entertainment. In an effort to regain his balance, he overcompensated and started stumbling back toward the pool. Trying to get his feet back under him, he moved his legs quicker as his head moved further forward. By the time he closed the distance back toward the pool, he was in what appeared to be a swan dive position and he went right over the lip of the pool head first into it. Despite the pool being only inches deep, our son seemed to completely submerge himself into the water. Standing up completely soaked and not realizing I was watching he muttered, “Awww man!” and then started laughing at himself.

This is when I realized that we had done something right. Despite the fact he was soaked, he was humble enough to get a chuckle out of the ridiculous situation. When he saw me laughing in the barn, he laughed even harder. Taking care of the dog should be no problem and if he fails from time to time, I should take a lesson from my son and be humble enough to clean up the mess.

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