Monday, July 30, 2007

"I feel like I'm Cinderella and you're the mean stepmother!"

That's what Ella said to me the other day during one of our battles over cleaning her room. I pointed out that if she was actually Cinderella she'd be cleaning up everyone's mess and not just her own. She didn't like that point. Another time she started in on how she didn't like to clean up her room, how it was boring, how it took too long. My response was that I didn't like cooking for everyone or washing and folding everyone's clothes and that maybe I should just stop doing it. She wasn't sure what to make of that either and fled the battle field.

But honestly, I'm tired of the same old fights with her over cleaning up and doing some minor chores - dusting, folding towels, vacuuming the kitchen. That's all I ask her to do, other than cleaning up her own messes. But each time it's this huge struggle to get her to do anything. I'm treated to lots of whining and protests about how her sister doesn't have to do chores. My answer that when her sister is 6 she'll start doing chores, too, doesn't help. Offering her an allowance worked at first, but then she got tired of the novelty and decided she was willing to forego allowance if it meant she didn't have to do chores.

I've tried apealing to what little logic she has, and that has fallen flat as well. I explained that in a family everyone has jobs to do - daddy has his work, plus he takes care of things around the house like lightbulbs and the garage and the trash. I have my job plus I cook and clean and fold laundry. Ella's job is to be 6 (which made her giggle), but she also has her own responsibilities like dusting and vacuuming and folding towels. She stopped giggling when I said that.

Despite my frustration, I'll keep pressing on with the lesson. I don't want her to grow up thinking that there will always be someone around to pick up after her and provide for her every need. I don't want her to be one of those spoiled bimbos on My Super Sweet 16 who pitches a fit when her mommy and daddy cut off her credit cards, not that Ella will ever have her own credit cards, but you get the point.

I want to raise a neat, respectful, responsible daughter, but she's making it so hard!


t. Cooke said...

Great line. She's smart enough to know that inflicting guilt + cultural referral = success.

Barb Matijevich said...

I've found that it takes a few years of gentle reminders to get them into the habit. Ana is good at chores now but she's 9. Jane, not so much. She's also the one who will tell me, "Oh, you are such a BAD MOMMY!" when she's seriously made at me. That, and, "Oh, you go check your e-mail!"



Unknown said...

Stay with it. I'll never forget my mom coming into my room one day when I was around 12 or so and telling me it was "time I starting doing my own laundry". I didn't take her too seriously until I ran out of clothes within a couple of weeks. When I whined and begged her to help me out "just this one time", she patiently showed me (again) how the washer and dryer worked. Her foresight that this would be a vital skill for me once I was on my own was of little consequence at the time. But looking back, it was a valuable lesson not only for life skills, but also taught me that a man's place can be in the laundry room. I know you have a strong willed little bugger in Ella, but your lessons will be appreciated at some point. It may take some time, but when her dorm room is not a total pigsty some day, you'll be proud.