Could We Have Done Something Right?!

Hi all–hope you had a great week and weekend. I’m actually trying to fathom what a break from tennis will be like. The men’s year-end final wraps up tonight. No tournaments until mid-December. Now how will I fill my ‘spare’ time for the next four weeks, lol?

“You realize we’re both hating you right about now,” said a new coworker, a few weeks ago. She, myself and a student’s assistant were discussing kids and getting them to do their chores without it being a struggle.

I’d happened onto their discussion, just in time to hear the assistant saying she was tired of “paying” her kids before their chores were done, then having to argue about it.

Interestingly enough, this conversation was taking place a few days after hubby and I decided to leave the dinner dishes and go hit tennis balls before dark. Younger Son (who is a few weeks shy of his 15th birthday) had cleared the dishes, but there were still pots to be washed, the counter to be wiped down…you know.

Aside: This Italian was raised to NEVER do the next thing—God forbid, something fun, lol—until the house is clean. Somehow, hubby got infected with this disease and looked at me like, You want to go now? Leave this mess? (I assured him it would be there when we got back.)

Well, hubby and I took off, had some fun and headed back home. (I happened to have an awesome day on the court–for me, anyway. Just sayin’.) It was still just light enough for a walk, so I opted to take a short one before it got any darker. “Oh sure. Leave me with the kitchen clean-up,” hubby grumped. (But not terribly.)

“I don’t know why we own Younger Son,” I answered. “There’s no reason we couldn’t have asked him to do it.”

Lo and behold, we entered a FULLY CLEANED KITCHEN. It was like the Cleaning Fairy had dropped in for a visit.

(This is pretty much the point where my co-worker expressed hate. And while I was mentioning it to someone else a day later—hey, I’m still every bit as amazed as the day it happened—another coworker overheard. She did the slow head turn, eyes wide and asked, “What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?”)

BTW last night, Younger Son did something similar—washed the few dishes that were in the sink without being asked.

And a few weeks ago, when I picked up my mom from the hospital, and it was 10:30 PM, and I hadn’t made it to cleaning the kitchen b/c hubby was away, and I was tied up helping my mom, I walked into the kitchen while Older Son (who is pushing the ripe age of 17) was doing what had to be done, without anyone asking.

And even this past week, when Younger Son had an orthodontist appointment at 6:30 PM—don’t ask why anyone would schedule that time when after school is so much more convenient at my house—and hubby wasn’t home, and both boys and I were scrambling to leave the kitchen clean before taking off, Older Son casually said, “You guys go. I’ll finish this.”

Mother does the glance askance at Older Son. Huh? (This is the same kid that would step out of his shoes in the middle of the doorway and keep walking. At least he slips out of them to the side of a step these days, with one shoe pointing outward every time, which is pretty much how the kid walks, and still proof that he literally steps out of his shoes, lol.)

“What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?

She really got me thinking. Next time, I’ll share some of the thoughts her question provoked.

Your turn: if you have kids, have they left you flumgubbered enough to wonder what YOU might have done right? Take a minute and tell us about it, please!

Thanks and have a great week,



12 thoughts on “Could We Have Done Something Right?!

  1. While my kids have to clear the table, take turns washing the pots, and empty the dishwasher, I’m not sure they would do it spontaneously. Guess it’s never come up since after dinner we remind them to clean up. Hmm, I’ll have to step out with hubby sometime before we remind them and see if they do it in our absence or wait until we come home and nag them. Would make for a good experiment…


      1. I did leave the kitchen last night while they were finishing up eating, just to see if they’d clean up without my reminder. Thirty minutes later when I returned, everything was rinsed and put in the dishwasher, so that was a good sign! But they didn’t wipe down the counter. Guess I can’t have everything. 🙂


  2. Hi Joanna,
    First let me say, I’m glad to see your blogs again. I thought there was something missing when I checked my email.
    As to one of your latest, i.e. getting the children to clean up the house.
    The children are all on their own at this time. Two married, one divorced already and my youngest still trying to find herself.
    However, when they were still at home, I started when they were quite young. Their mother was kind of lackadaisical, but I passed on the rules I had been given from my Italian parents. They are being provided with food, a place to sleep and clothes, so they had to do their share.
    I started them off as early as 7 or 8 with clearing off the table after dinner and sweeping the kitchen floor. In a couple of years they were promoted to taking turns with the dishes. When they became teenagers they graduated to dong weekly chores including; mopping/vacuuming the floors, cleaning the toilets (after all they used them too), etc.
    I found that starting them off early created less flak later on.


    1. Hi Frank. Thanks so much for your very kind words re my blog. I do miss it when I can’t get to it. Feels good to be back.

      Sounds like you started young building an expectation of responsibility with your kids. Doesn’t have to be in big ways either, and is easily built up over time. Hope all is well with you!


  3. @Carrie: sounds like you’re off to a great start! Men and boys are very concrete. Tell a woman to “do the dishes” and she’ll clean the dishes, wipe every surface down and probably sweep the floor too. Men are also a bit less driven, perhaps? They will “do the dishes” and look at you like you have 10 heads when you ask why they didn’t clean the stove AND the counter. They are, however, teachable. Be patient. One step at a time or they get overwhelmed, lol.


  4. Joanna, you give me hope. My two are 13 and 11. Right now, it’s the constant reminder to do their chores. They never forget to ask for their allowance though! Son is the 13 year old and he will do his chores with less complaint. Daughter likes to add the visual effects of eye rolling when reminded. Hopefully, I’ve done something right and I’ll have the beautiful experience you did! Congratulations! Parenting well done!


    1. At times I still do quite a bit of reminding, Stacey. Younger son avoided the trash at least two days straight, lol.

      Older son showed empathy tonite. More on that in next post! Thnx!


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