Two of my sons were mad at me.
“Why did you do it for him? That’s so not fair!” One of my sons said for me.
Another son chimed right on in, clearly thrilled that his brother paved the way.
“Seriously mom. You don’t do that for us! We have to do it? This is ridiculous!”
The charge against me? I washed and put away one of their brother’s clothes while he as out at practice. Yep. Guilty as charged. On all accounts.
Do I normally have each child wash and put away their own laundry? Yep. They are capable of it and I believe if they can, they should.
But there is something else I also normally do that these two very upset brothers were missing. I help when needed. And that day, this one son needed my help.
“Guys. I actually would do the same for you, and I have. If you see someone struggling…maybe they fell off a bike, or are in the deep end of a pool and are showing distress, what do you do? What do I do? I jump in the pool and or I run over to the kid and I help. I get that kid to safety.
Your brother is overwhelmed and struggling.
When we are in that place, a messy room with overflowing laundry, it just adds to the struggle and makes it harder to get out of the bad mood. I know. I’ve been there. Some day your brother will realize that on his own, same with you. Until then, one way to learn, is for me to show him how much better it feels to have a clean room and clean clothes.
So yes, I did his laundry and picked up his room. I’d do it for you too. And notice, I didn’t do it right away. I gave a him a chance for a while. I waited. But there comes a point, when people need a little help and in this family, we help.
Okay so obviously I didn’t say those exact words because if I remembered all of that, that would be impressive. But it was close. But these, I did say for verbatim,
“And again, I would do the same for you. K? And please, please be kind to him. Someday when you are struggling, he will be kind to you. We all struggle. We will all need help someday. Remember that.”
A couple of years ago, this would not have been how the story went. Why not?
Because I would have been too stuck on the “principle” of teaching my son the importance of doing his chores and learning the hard way about how dirty laundry stinks, no pun intended.
Because I would have been too stuck on parenting the “right way” instead of being a loving human person “the right way.”
Because I would have been too stuck on listening to all the voices of society and social media telling me how to raise a good kid and likewise how to screw up. I would have been too stuck to listen to the most important voice, the voice inside of me, yelling loudly, begging to be heard, that screamed:
LEAD BY EXAMPLE that is how you truly teach and what you believe!
Show him love. Show him grace. Show him support. This is what you believe!
Show your son how to take care of mental health because that – that is the base for getting all chores done, for getting life done for that matter.
Show him how laundry isn’t just a chore, but how good clean clothes and a clean room feels. How good not having chores hanging over our heads feel.
Show him how loving acts of kindness help others and ourselves.
Now, I know some people say, “but wait a second, can’t he learn how good all of the above things are by doing it himself?” YES, yes he can. But again, sometimes, sometimes we all get stuck and need help. Sometimes, we can’t see for ourselves what we need.
I know that is true for me. Our teens, our kids are humans too. I treat them as I would want to be treated. If I was overwhelmed (oh…wait lol) I would want help to help get me through the rough patch.
* * * *
The morning after my infamous cleaning job…my son came downstairs in a PLEASANT mood for the first time in weeks. Oh my gosh, I just got all choked up.
“Mom, did you do that?”
“Yes, sweetie, I did.”
He walked over and gave me a hug.
“Thank you. It was really nice to come home to last night.”
Doing the laundry for him on occasion isn’t the end of the world…it was showing him a world of kindness. Parenting and Life aren’t always easy, but with love and support, we get through the rough patches.
Sending warmth and strength as always,
The Orange Rhino
Another popular Teen Post?
How to Not Yell at Teenagers, According to My Teen!
Get *almost* daily stories at The Orange Rhino Facebook page about my life with my four teenagers and my journey to discover what keeps me in a goodish place, even when life is challenging and charging at me, so that I can love my life and time with my kids as much as possible.