Thursday, July 29, 2010


Well...this second round of Do Nothing, Say Nothing didn't go quite the way I expected.

I was just sure that this week was going to be fabulous. The kids were going to rock our world, because we weren't going to do or say anything, and they were going to show us how far they have come in the last 6 months.

Umm...yeah. Right. That fantasy ended pretty quickly.

There were bright moments -- Dante made dinner of his own accord on the nights that he was supposed to (dinner was his contribution this week) and attempted to clean up the kitchen when he was done (the dinner person isn't supposed to leave a giant mess for the dishes person). The dinners were delicious, and even though he wasn't super successful at the cleanup, at least he tried!

Okay, that was one bright moment. I'm sure there had to have been another, I just can't think of it now, no matter how hard I rack my brain.

Again, Will and I haven't had time to formally talk about what we learned, but informally, we've discussed our observation that all four kids are spoiled (with money, toys, activities, you name it) and don't really take responsibility for or appreciate any of it. This is not their fault, but it's not a pretty reality. And, as I posted below, given the opportunity to play video games 24/7, they lose all interest in anything else.

Oh, and I learned that there's a good reason that I've been hesitant to use one of the Parenting on Track strategies, in which instead of telling the kid what to do, I say, "Would you be willing to....?" If they say "no," then I say, "What would you be willing to do?" If they say "nothing," then I get to decide how I will respond (hopefully parenting from my best!)

I planned to try this way back in week 11, but haven't been able to bring myself to do it. Control issues, much? However, I figured that since it's DNSN and I can't order them around or remind them to do stuff, I had nothing to lose.

We were having a dinner party on Tuesday (I know, what was I thinking, right?) and I had already decided that I was going to do what needed to be done so that I felt good about having people over, and that I wasn't going to be resentful of the fact that I probably wouldn't have much help from the kids.

So Tuesday afternoon I stepped in front of the television screen:
Me: "Hey guys, would you be willing to clean up your mess in the kitchen?"
Them: "Sure, can we just finish this song?"
Me: "It's up to you."
Them: {keep playing Rock Band for about 5 more songs}
Me: {silently go about my business in other parts of the house}
Them: "Hey mom, we're riding bikes to the store, okay"
Me: "Sure. See you in awhile!"
Me: {clean up their messes in the kitchen}
Them: {get home and don't notice that kitchen is clean or remember that they said they were willing to clean it}
Me: "Hey guys, would you be willing to hold your rats while I clean the tank?"
Boys: {settle back in front of the television screen} "No, I don't feel like it."
Girl: "I can't decide."
Me: "Well, you need to decide because I need to clean the tank."
Girl: "I hate to say this, but no, I am not willing to!"
Me: "Okay."
Them: {play video games}
Me: {put rats in rubbermaid tub and clean the tank}

I wasn't resentful, the kids had fun, the house was clean when the party started. And I must add here that am really grateful for good friends who are willing to at least act like they understand why we let two boys (ages 7 and 9) walk into the kitchen, grab a loaf of bread and take it down into the family room to eat while playing video games, completely ignoring the fact that we had a houseful of people and that dinner was literally being put on the table as they walked off with the bread.

I'm really thankful that Do Nothing, Say Nothing is over for another go-round.

And I'm feeling like many of the changes we've seen over the last six months (because honestly, there have been many, and almost all of them are changes for the better) are still being directed by the adults. Mostly I'm left with questions about giving the kids more ownership over themselves, their things, and the family.

And I'm really glad that we're starting the whole program over, because I can see it spiraling (yeah, you guys who teach Everyday Math are scoffing now, because we all know that the spiral doesn't really work :P but this is different, I swear!) and I do think that things will continue to improve over time. As our wise counselor told us last time we saw her, we're doing so many things right and it's still really hard.

1 comment:

sf said...

Kudos to Dante for the dinner thing, right?
And to you!!