BUT I DON’T WANT TO!
These words scream in my head so often that when I hear them coming from one of my kids, I almost don’t recognize that they are not coming from me.
I don’t want to.
They don’t want to clean up their rooms, read books for school, go outside for a run or a bike ride or to practice doing anything.
I don’t want to clean toilets, do laundry, make dinner, or run errands. I don’t want to go to bed, wake up, exercise, or blow my hair dry. I don’t want to make cookies. I don’t want to pay bills, and I sure don’t want to go out in the yard to pull weeds because last time I did that I got poison ivy and that crap is Crazytown.
But hold on. Slow up. Take a beat.
And forget for a minute that these are my children and that I am their role model.
Why don’t I – we – want to? Is it because we don’t want others telling us what to do, or because we don’t like to be controlled by outside forces, or because the job is boring, or thankless, or stupid, or – God forbid – good for us?
Do you know what I want to do? I want to sit on the couch and watch TV and eat chocolate and drink wine. All the live long day. But that’s no way to live. Believe me – I’ve tried it. It gets old, fast.
The things I should do – must do – are always present, and they are there to make life interesting, and productive, and beneficial.
It’s a hard lesson for some of us, those of us who are wired a little more loosely than others. Or tightly, depending on your perspective. I don’t want to because I feel put out by the things I have to do, that I am somehow missing something else because of the priority things – the work I must do. I spent all day washing clothes and now I don’t have time to do anything else that might be fun. FOR ME.
It’s selfishness, really. A character flaw.
I resist change at an inconsequential level. Tell me that tomorrow we’ll be moving to Hong Kong and I’ll pack boxes and contact a realtor, but please don’t tell me that you’re coming home late because both of the kids have places to go and they haven’t approved human cloning yet, and I’m definitely holding out on that before asking a neighbor to help out. Also, that garage sale stuff can sit in the dining room for a few more weeks, can’t it? Garage sales are a lot of work. A LOT of work.
And I don’t want to do it.
The realization that my kids mirror what they see in me, and that my job is to teach them otherwise, is a sobering thought. This is my parenting fail. This is where I’ve messed them up forever.
I apologize, future spouses of my children.
It’s also the point at which I no longer freak the freak out when they refuse to do something. “I don’t want to” elicits not a surprise reaction, nor anger, nor much emotion at all anymore. I ask them to verbalize why they don’t want to, and let the reasons play out and dribble away.
We don’t want to, but that’s not an option most of the time. Getting them to see it that way is hard, but I think eventually they will.
Whether or not they want to, that is.