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Mon, Oct 23, 2017 09:29 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Mischief & Mayhem


Three steps forward


02/06/2008 - Lately I have thought a lot about the saying "three steps forward and two steps back." It seems that regardless of the number of times we tell the boys to do their chores, to keep up with their own things, to put their shoes away, or anything else, it either does not happen or they half-*** do it. They come home from school and don't change out of their uniforms, which they are supposed to change out of immediately, and they leave their shoes in the middle of the floor until I trip over them and get upset. They 'clean' their room but yet I find socks stuck behind books on the books shelves, trash under the beds and behind the dressers, and tons of other out of place objects. They wait until the last minute to complete research papers and then add anything they can find to fill up the pages giving no thought to the content or purpose. When they do manage to work hard on homework projects, they often fail to make it to school with them. And don't get me started on taking the trash out!

We make small steps of progress towards teaching them responsibility and the next thing we know, we have to repeat, repeat, and REPEAT! I can be a bit high-strung at times and when they do not listen after I have repeated myself countless times, my blood pressure goes up, and I get angry. And as my husband says, if Mom's not happy, no one is happy. I think that the main reason I get so frustrated with them is that I have very high expectations and I have to work with some individuals who remind me a lot of the boys in that they don't take the initiative to do things on their own and they are not forward thinking enough to do things in a manner that will be conducive to their growth and development.

The same seems to be true for our country in this day and age — so many of our people have grown so dependent on the government that they do not attempt to live the American dream. When social reform dictates that people who work hard for a living are taxed to death to pay for programs that promote laziness, I get angry. The middle-class people of the US are working hard and yet still struggling to get by. I could go on and on about the economy, the wealth or poverty in America, and the programs that rob Peter to pay Paul but that is really not my point. My only point is that the attitude in my children (10- & 12-years-old) is echoed in many adults I see. I see the same agonizing behavior over and over all around.

I often find the voices in my head reminding me that our boys are only children and that I should not hold them to my high level of expectations but rather should let them just be little boys for a while. I think about the short amount of time that we have left with them before they go off to college or until they get their driver's licenses and I think that they need to have fun while they can. However, it doesn't take long before I am thinking that we only have that same amount of time until our influence over them has evaporated. As such, we only have a short amount of time to teach them to be hard working, upstanding citizens who know what it takes to be successful and to make it on their own in this world.

There is an old Chinese proverb that says, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime." We are trying very hard to teach our boys to fish!

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