I knew as soon as the words were past my lips that I had hit a chord with them. Three sets of eyes widened. My son’s mouth formed a little “oh”. My eldest coughed up some words of dispute, like the young teenager she is, she was quick to defend.
“It’s not like that! Well, we aren’t like that.”
“Hmm” I mused, “I think when children don’t contribute their share in the household, they’re behaving like the ugly step sisters in Cinderella.”
By this point, we’d finished our chores and were sitting knee to knee in a circle in my daughters’ bedroom. It was clean, just waiting for a vacuum, which I would do later.
In fact, we had just finished combing through the entire residence for the 20 minutes before I had the Cinderella Step-Sister Revelation.
Like a swarm we moved from room to room. As the General, I throw out orders as we arrive in each space. They must sound crazy to anyone from the outside: What do you see that you KNOW how to fix? Start with that.
The youngest lines up shoes in the closets, the eldest hits the tallest items, the middle pulls sheets into place and starts the beds. Together we are a well-oiled machine. Each room is a blur. Three minutes later, we move to the next space.
Repeat: Look around. What do you see that YOU know how to clean?
And again, in 3 minutes, we are done. Moving on. Next.
And so on and so forth.
At the end my son commented on how fun it all was today, and how great it felt to be done so fast. I’m a lucky Mom. I know this is a wonderful gift. Cooperative children who work together are a precious commodity. I thanked them for their great help.
But in an odd turn, in our last space, we stopped to wonder what the house would look like if I didn’t function as the “boss”.
~like~ If there was no Mom, would we, the kids, still clean?
“Yes, I think we would” one said... but another looked less sure....
“Not cleaning would be like telling me I should do everything. It would be the same as being an Ugly Step Sisters, and treating me like Cinderella. ‘Get my clothes, make my bed, fix my food, clean my room...' and that wouldn’t be good for any of us.”
Remember that time I finally got through to my kids about what it means to be a contributor?
Thank you, Disney.
Huh. I never thought I would say that.