This happens every time!
She cooks and then she leaves the kitchen and the surrounding area a mess.
Then I have to be the bad guy and remind her to clean it up.
I do like that she loves to cook and to be honest she is quite good at it.
Well yesterday she made us waffles and they were delicious. And since she did the cooking, I probably should have offered to clean up. But she is eleven and I am trying to teach her to take more responsibility for her actions. Like cleaning up after herself. Just so you don’t get the wrong impression, she is not a rebellious tween who her mother and I are worried about. In fact, she is a straight A student who is kind to everyone and is the best big sister a five year old brother could ever ask for.
But back to the waffle debacle. The sink was a mess, the counter was dirty and the table where we ate still had plates of leftover waffles and syrup. I’ve learned that sometimes I have to choose when and where I pick my battles. Just earlier in the week she and I had gotten into it about this same type of thing.
So, after waiting a bit I finally decided it was time to remind her that I expected her to clean up the mess that she had made cooking breakfast for us. She said she had a headache and needed to take a shower. Promising to clean it all up once she got out. Fair enough I thought. The waffles weren’t going to go bad and it when it got done wasn’t really the point. It just needed to get done.
It was while my daughter was in the shower that I realized something. Yes, by making her clean up after herself I was teaching her responsibility. And the past ten times we had had this discussion I held firm to my demands. But this time? This time seemed different. I realized I had the perfect opportunity to model something much more important than responsibility.
I was not sure if the lesson would be lost. Tweens’ brains don’t always pick up what we’re puttin’ down. But then again, neither does mine. I knew it was worth a try. So while my daughter was taking a shower trying to get rid of her headache, I worked as quickly as possible to clean up everything. I rinsed the dishes, loaded the dishwasher, cleaned the counter, cleared the breakfast table and stored the leftover waffles in the fridge.
I finished just in time. When she walked through the kitchen to go upstairs I don’t think she even noticed what I had done. Hmmm, maybe my idea wasn’t so good after all. But then when she came back down she did. And she said, “Daddy, I was going to clean everything up. Why did you do it?”
Because I love you.