Oh, the ironing!
You guys probably know that I started my blogging career as the Ill-Prepared Housewife, and it's a name I still earn regularly. Being the caretaker of four kids, a husband, a house (and don't get me started on our pet menagerie) has been master class after master class. I've learned Film Making, Photography, Health, Kitchen Science, Art, Crafts (lots of those), math, history and the mother of all the rest: psychology. I was reading a book the other day called, "He's Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself." There were probably a lot of tips in there about setting your son up for success with academic scaffolding and some other strategies to convince everyone that if a son does a really poor job taking out the garbage, it doesn't mean he won't get into Harvard. But I wouldn't know because I didn't actually finish the book. I got to the part where they said that doing household tasks could help a boy who maybe wasn't succeeding in other areas of his life feel self confidence.
Well, what if this boy (no one I know, I assure you) is kind of crap at household tasks? What if taking the trash out is translated more like spread the garbage all over the yard? Am I to build a scaffolding for success? Must everything be a long laborious Teachable Moment? Even picking up one's dirty underwear off the floor? (Again, I am not speaking from personal experience.)
So this book basically made me feel like any shortcomings of my kids are my fault. Which I pretty much already knew. All those master classes I was talking about? Im mostly struggling to keep a basic C average on a good day. I'm not in honors level and I've definitely repeated a few of them.
But back to psychology: there is one area that I feel really pretty good about. The idea of running a family in part is that you are raising kids so that they become independent adults. So one day, when I was reading in bed, I noticed that the laundry room door was closed but the light was on. I went to investigate and had the shock of my life: my teenage son was secretly ironing! (It wasn't actually me, it was a friend who you don't know and this is about her parenting win.)
My husband's (not MY husband, who is definitely not pictured, above, Ironing. Remember, this is about a friend.) reaction was to feel bad. He's the ironer in our family, and he was sorry he hadn't gotten to whatever item of clothing a teenage boy could possibly need ironed (khaki pants, as it turned out). But I felt like this was a victory. Our son had taken responsibility for himself, learned a skill and made it happen.
A few weeks later, we were having a problem with leaving for school on time. One issue was late night/ early morning ironing taking time away from sleep or before school prep. So I found myself offering to iron the pants. I fumbled, because honestly, I'm not sure I have actually ever ironed khaki pants. I put them inside out and flattened the pockets first. Then I considered whether he would want a crease. But I thought better of it, reasoning that I had never seen him with a crease in his pants. Besides, I reasoned, if I do a good job, he will want me to do it again and then we will back away from that independent adult hood. Can't have that. Lazy parenting win! For my friend.