Friday, 20 October 2017

He could've been an iron man

I believe that it is important to teach your kids as many life skills as possible. That way when they face the big scary world and finally get their own place, they will be ready.

A few years ago I taught both of the boys to iron their school shirts and trousers. It was a long and labourious process, with lots of tantrums and tears, before they would throw the towel in, or more accurately - a shirt, followed by ‘you do it better Tash’. 

The first couple of lessons took around 40 minutes. That’s 40 minutes to iron five shirts and a pair of trousers. But I persevered. By Christmas that year we had made some progress - both of the boys were doing their school uniforms without drama.

For the first few months I kept an eye on them and everything was going well - there were no burnt fingers, no broken irons. The shirts and trousers were ironed and I thought I had taught the boys a valuable life skill. I didn’t know where they would end up in life but one thing was for sure, they would always have neat creases.

A couple of weeks ago, I was finishing my own mountain of ironing and left everything set up for the boys to do their school uniforms. DeeQ insisted on going first. 

I was pottering around the kitchen, when I happened to glance down at the fruits of DeeQ’s labour. There were three shirts hanging on the rail, half ironed.

When I looked closer I realised that he had ironed the collar, the front and the back but completely left out the sleeves. I remembered DeeQ’s detailed training session on how to iron the sleeves. In fact I had taught him how to flatten the sleeve so that the line is straight and sharp. But there they were - all wrinkled.

I challenged DeeQ. As he was confidently running an iron on a trouser, he casually replied, “Oh, I don’t iron the sleeves anymore. There is no point because nobody can see them, they are hidden under the blazer.”

In his 17 year old mind this was a perfectly reasonable explanation and a solution to free up three minutes of his valuable teenage time to watch Netflix, Snapchat and NOT clean his room. 

This ingenious dodge was unacceptable to my inner parent and I made him go over all the shirts and iron them properly. With evil stares and ‘whatevers’ he obliged. 

I poured myself a glass of wine and went to rant to Mr Chateauneuf. As I was telling him about the sleeves, I suddenly remembered how we asked DeeQ to paint the kitchen for us during his summer holidays. 

No, not asked, we paid him. In fact, the hourly rate was much better than any of his friends were getting working in shops, and he could’ve racked up as many hours as he wanted. But he only painted the walls, completely omitting the ceiling and not even attempting to start on the utility room. He also painted ONLY when we pressured him, and on the whole showed complete lack of interest in earning extra money.

I couldn’t help but wonder, having taught DeeQ the practical life skills like ironing, cooking and painting, how did we manage to miss out the satisfaction of a job well-done? Is it even possible to teach somebody ambition? Or is ambition something you are born with and not acquired?

The questions were buzzing in my head like mosquitos, so I drained my glass and went to get the bottle and another glass. Mr Chateauneuf and I were going into a parenting strategy meeting. 

No comments:

Post a Comment