From the very beginning, I always told myself I wouldn’t be that mom. I said I wouldn’t do things for him that he could do on his own. Children should learn to listen and do as their told, right? I didn’t want to spoil him and think he could get away with whatever he wants. Anytime he didn’t listen he would get a firm “talking to”, a spanking, or a timeout.
One Monday morning I walked into Jackson’s room to find it looking like a tornado disaster zone. I very calmly told him to clean his room so that we could go out and run some errands. Jack said, “Ok!” and acted as if he was going to get it done. So, I went about my housework and left him to it.
A little while later I come back to his room and not a single toy has been picked up. Clothes are still strung out across the floor. I see Jackson sitting in a corner fiddling around with a toy. Before getting upset, I try to talk to him. He tells me he doesn’t want to clean. So, I try to make it fun and exciting. I start singing the clean up song, and he peps up a little. He asks that I I help him clean. I tell him no, he made the mess, so he should clean it himself.
About an hour later I peek into his room and see him scattering even more toys around his room. Now I’m aggravated. These “terrible-two” flare ups are annoying as hell. I start to use my mom voice. I let him know that I’m very disappointed in him and if he doesn’t clean up his room, I’ll throw them all away or donate them to other kids who deserve to have toys. Now he’s crying and begging me to help him clean.
“Help me clean, mommy? Yeah?”
“No. I will not help you.” And I walked away. I left him in his room crying. Twenty minutes later I’m folding laundry in my bedroom and I still hear him crying. I try and try not to let it bother me. He needs to learn to do as he’s told. Do not help him. Do not help him. Do not help him.
But why not? Why can’t I help him? As I sit there, listening to my child crying my name, I realize something. I realize in that moment that I’m not teaching him to do things on his own. I’m teaching him that his mother isn’t there for him. I’m teaching him that he’s alone.
So, I get up, walk back to his room, and pick my child up from the floor. I hold him in my arms and rock him while he whimpers and grabs onto my shirt. He nuzzles his snot nose into my neck and says, “I’m sorry, mommy, I love you.” I stand Jack up on his feet and wipe away his tears. I hold his chubby little cheeks in my hands and say, “Let’s clean up this room together. We’re a team.” He smiles the biggest smile.
Less than twenty minutes later Jackson’s entire room is tidied up and organized. He hops over and holds out his hand for a high-five, then a fist bump.
“We’re a team, mommy.”
“Yeah, buddy, you and me.”
Jackson knows his mom will always be there when he needs him. He knows that I’ll always have his back. No, I’m not always going to help him clean his room and there may be a day that I’ll let his little butt sit in jail like my mom did to my older brother. Every situation is going to be different. But that day, I decided to let him know he wasn’t alone, and that he could rely on me. Because sometimes, kids need that reassurance, even if that means putting your “hardcore” parenting pride to the side.
So, yeah, I cleaned my kid’s room. What of it?