Jul 25, 2010

Give that girl a prize!

Eight years old seems to be a season of "prickliness" in my children, a time of transitioning, at least in the family's expectations, into an age when more responsibility is expected from you. Prior to this age any chores that are given are small, short in duration and usually single-instance jobs such as "Hey, Noah, can you come and help me, I need someone to hold this while I..." Starting around eight years, jobs become more structured and repetitive such as "I need you to make sure that you empty the bathroom trashcans each and every day, replacing the old bag with a fresh bag and also, please wipe out the sink, here is how you do it..."

Liberty is eight years old now, so she is in the phase of learning to be consistent and reliable in her jobs. We moved to the country originally because we wanted to grow character in our children and believed that having the environment for them to have the space to work hard--and play hard--would facilitate this growth. Liberty is suffering from "princess syndrome". For too many years she was the beloved and pampered baby girl, even though she had several younger siblings. Here at Swede Farm aka the Carlson household, children (and adults) are given monthly AOR, or "Areas of Responsibility" to tend to. These AOR may be as simple as "please keep the front hall picked up" to "make cheese for the month". For Liberty, the mention of her AOR is often met with much hand-wringing and moaning. We have had several conversations that have gone like this "I'm boooooored..." (Big mistake, as her older siblings know and Liberty is learning!)

"Liberty I cannot fathom why you would be bored, you have so much that you could be doing. In fact, have you tended to your area of responsibility yet today? I do not believe that you have. And if you are still bored after that, I have a list of jobs that need someone assigned to them, I'd hate for you to be bored, so I would be glad to help you out by giving you a few tasks..."

(Deep signs and almost--but not quite--foot stomping as she drags herself off to tend to her responsibilities.)

She is a fast learner, though, now she gets as far as "I'm bor...oh! never mind!" when she sees me getting ready to give her additional tasks to alleviate her boredom, although she did try on at least one occasion to tell me that she wasn't that kind of bored, she was the kind of bored that could only be helped by fun things to do.

Yesterday Liberty went with her older sister Christin to sell at one of our farmers markets in Austin. Frankly this assignment was made to spare the oldest at home the burden of dealing with Miss. Princess and her hand-wringing drama. I figured Christin would be too busy to be much bothered by it and hoped that Liberty could be of some assistance, not having ten acres to run off and play in. So when she climbed into the car after market I ask her "Liberty, did you behave?"

"ummm...no. But I did help!"

She continued...

"and I started to get bored, but then I decided that instead of being bored I would try to help Christin and you know what? I wasn't bored anymore!"

There may yet be hope for Princess Liberty.

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