“Can you please make your lunch for me?” I asked one of my children this morning.
I usually make lunch for my youngest two, though my oldest got into the habit since he started middle school, realizing that I might not even be up by the time he has to leave for school and while Dad drives him to school, Dad doesn’t do anything to help him get ready.
That’s not a complaint about Dad’s parenting skills. Dad is smart.
Dad knows that our son is capable of getting himself ready for school all on his own.
All of our boys are.
Yet I still do so much for them.
Partly because I don’t mind it and partly because sometimes it’s easier and quicker if I do it than if I sit back and wait for them to do it and I don’t want to be late.
But if I always do everything, it will never get easier or faster for them to do it on their own.
And my boys aren’t babies any more.
“A boy too old to be a kid, too young to be a man…” a line I love from the book and movie A Monster Calls. It’s poetic and rhythmic and… describes where we are right now with one, where we’re moving toward with the others.
When they do something to help themselves, they aren’t doing it for me, they’re doing it for them.
And if they don’t do it, I need to realize that it doesn’t actually affect me.
Don’t pack your lunch in time? Eat the school lunch you don’t like.
Don’t get all of your folders, homework, laptop, etc. packed into your backpack? Then you don’t have everything you need for school.
Don’t practice, then don’t do as well in a game or on a test.
Don’t go to sleep on time, wake up tired.
There are natural consequences and it’s okay if my boys have to suffer a few of those to learn that they need to take more responsibility for making smarter choices with their time… then good.
It’s not for me they need to learn these lessons, it’s for them.