Defining the Battle Ground

Katie has begun to chafe some under my delegation. Over the last few years I’ve grown more comfortable with throwing tasks at the kids. Mowing the yard, emptying and filling the dishwasher, and cleaning the kitchen are givens, the terms of their allowance start there with the understand that that they do whatever is needed as asked.

The side garden has become greatly overgrown with redbuds and maple trees, so I set Kate loose on it this evening.

Like most teenagers she has an attitude about physical labor where she does some of a job – never all – calls it good and slinks away to go back to whatever it was she wanted to do. I recognize this because I was the same way at her age. When I saw less than half the job done I called her back out. I got the “my life is ending and it’s your fault” sigh and shoulder slump, but she went back out. Still, though, did only about half of what was left.

I sent her inside. I’ll have her do the rest tomorrow or Sunday.

Apparently, once inside she huffed down on the loveseat next to Michelle and had a meltdown. “I can’t tell which stem is which!” and “It’s too hot outside!” and “My back hurts!” blaadie blah blah blah whine whine whine. I’ve no tolerance for that. At fifty-one I can work circles around both of my healthy kids without breaking a sweat, so I don’t take any guff from either of them. None of that makes me angry. I am immovable, not mad.

Then she tossed out the one idea guaranteed to piss me off. “I don’t see why I have to work on it, it’s not MY garden.”

Wrong answer.

She and I are going to chat about it. Some parents would have heard that and dragged the kid out of her room right in that moment, but I want her receptive and I’m not going to get that by kicking her while she’s down (so to speak.) What I want is to get her to assert it again, but to me. I want her to commit to it – then I’ll take it from her and bludgeon her with it.

It goes like this: We are a family and you are a part of it. In families we do what needs doing because we’re taking care of each other and the place we live in. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do everything, so I’m going to delegate. You don’t want to cut down the trees? Fine, I’ll do it, and YOU can cook the meals. See how that works? We all work together and the house runs smoothly.

Of course, if that doesn’t get through, there’s always…

You’re being awful mouthy for someone with no income who wants to eat from time to time and get stuff off Amazon and watch cable TV. I control your internet connection and can shut down your daily life by throwing a single breaker. This is not a contest you are prepared or equipped to win.

I’m not above being That Dad. I’m reasonably sure it won’t come to that, though.


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