I’ve recently noticed something interesting: whenever I ask N to do something—like empty the dishwasher or move laundry from the washer to the dryer—he says, “Okay,” and then… he does it. No arguing, no whining. Today he cleaned the bathroom he shares with K, broke down a bunch of cardboard boxes for recycling, took out the garbage, and did his laundry—just because I asked.
(Cool aside about the laundry: he had to teach Mr. December how to use our laundry machines. It was really adorable.)
Now, don’t get too excited yet: certain jobs, like cleaning the bathroom, require a lot of supervision on my part. It tends to sound like this:
Me: Did you wipe the whole toilet down? Including the seat?
Me (lifting the toilet seat): Uh… do you see this yellow stuff here?
Him: Oh. Ew. Okay.
Me: Why don’t you go over everything with a wipe again? Pay attention to the hinges, the part behind where the seat attaches to the bowl, basically everything.
Him (reaching for a wipe): Okay.
10 minutes later:
Him: Okay, I cleaned the bathroom!
Me: Did you do the sink and countertop?
Me: Please wash the sink and countertop.
5 minutes later:
Him: I’m done!
Me: Are your dirty clothes still on the floor right next to the hamper?
Him: … I’ll be right back.
See? He’s agreeable and cooperative, but he needs a lot of reminding. Maybe I should just make him a checklist.
My point, however, is that he seems to have stopped fighting me on these things. He does what needs to be done. The very last time he balked at emptying the dishwasher, we had this exchange:
Him: What happens if I don’t?
Me: If you don’t pull your weight, it will breed resentment from your siblings, all of whom do their jobs. Over time, that sort of thing causes relationship damage.
At that point I walked away, leaving him to think about it; a few minutes later he was emptying the dishwasher.
We went through a similar turnaround with K, which is why I’m writing this: to tell you, readers who have young kids, that most of the time, those frustrating behaviours do go away… when the kids grow out of them. Just hang in there.