Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Do or Don't

Will or won’t

Working on basic chores around the house means that there can be automatic friction with the members of the home and the Aspie who doesn’tknow what the heck is going on
The boy was home on the weekends; from now on he would be home on the weekends on a  more regular basis. It was a Saturday, and normally, he would have been gone early that morning. He was home this time and the cuter one and I were cleaning the house; our normal Saturday AM routine. The boy had NEVER seen us doing that before. WE dusted, swept floors and washed the kitchen and then did some laundry. He watched, like we were the trained staff or the monkeys at the zoo jumping around trying to reach a dust mote.

He didn’t get it.

In fact, he didn’t understand that cleaning the house is an ongoing project. He couldn’t comprehend that we expected him to clean his room, dust and sweep. Then we could go have a good time. This took years….a long time of “I don’t know how to sweep” , “Where is the broom again?”, “Why am I working on a weekend?”, and my personal favorite, “This violates child labor laws Mom, I shouldn’t have to dust my room.”
What ended up happening?

Well after I got frustrated, annoyed and angry, we compromised. The boy has his chores. He has the list of what is expected from him every day. Right now he is interning, so the list isn’t as long. But he KNOWS how to unload the dishwasher, throw in a load of laundry and clean his work clothes. HE KNOWS he has to work on the list. He knows that playing video games all day or saying, “I don’ wan’ ter.” Is not only going to get him grounded (for annihilating the English language for one)….it is likely that he will lose additional privileges as well….in this home a bedroom door is a privilege, not a right….and the door can be removed without warning.
How did he learn to do this contributing to the home stuff? Largely, he learned by watching. Initially, he watched me unload the dishwasher a few times. Then he did it with me a couple times and then went solo while I was in the other room. NOW he does it as part of his contributing to the home. I think the big thing is that the chores HAVE to be seen as a viable and regular (daily) contribution. The contribution to daily living and being in a family and being responsible is huge. He does the jobs we ask him to do well. However we did have to do training, kind of like training the new person at work, only it is your kid. The other thing we do that is harder yet is to keep it positive…correction is fine, but NOT when you hear, “I think I am done now.” Then you go in and “Nope buddy you aren’t done yet.” I normally ask him if something is missing, “Where is the pizza wheel? Did you find the bottle opener? What about the large cheese grater?” Then we go through the dishwasher and see what is still in there. The only time he has left items is if HE thinks they are dirty. “Mom, this doesn’t look clean, leave it there.” No more than 1 item is left behind, and most of the time it is something that didn’t get really clean and needs a redo (he was right).

Making chores, or household duties, a contribution to living in the house, means that the boy is taking OWNERSHIP of the job he is asked to do. Sometimes you have to do what we did and figure out WHAT jobs (dishwasher unloading, laundry, watering the garden, folding the towels) he is able to do and expand on those jobs…. that and we tell him, "You can't live in our basement, we don't have one so learn to do your part of the chores so you can have your own apartment."
However, the boy’s room cleaning is an all Saturday job with help from the cuter half and Mom….he can’t do this one on his own and it is outrageous for the cuter half and I to expect him to. Not that he is a dirty pig, but the room is slightly, “unorganized” and the boy does recognize his failings in that area….he does help with it but at first glance….he has to leave until it is under some real control.

Hmmmmm it is about time we take a look in there again. Normally I close the door and, “Pretend the room is clean.”