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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My Little Helper

I have to say that I'm very proud of my four year old son because he has come a long way toward becoming a good helper to me and to his Daddy as well. He's still not a perfect helper as he is a young apprentice in training. I just adore his willing spirit to help around the house.

Recently he and his Daddy began a dishwashing routine after dinner every night. Daddy washes and Matthew rinses and stacks them on the dish rack. I am quite amazed that he can do this job well, notwithstanding the occasional water play while on the job.

Several weeks ago when his Daddy mowed the lawn, he also wanted to help. Together, father and son pushed the lawn mower and mowed the front and back lawns. It was so endearing to me to see Matthew's beaming face, knowing that he can be a help to his big Daddy.

Whenever I make scrambled eggs, pancakes, muffins, or waffles, he asks, "Mommy, may I help you?" How can I say no to such a cordial request? I usually have him take out the ingredients or the utensils. He then pushes a chair or a stool against the counter to stand on. As I add each ingredient into the mixing bowl, he uses his favorite whisk to mix the batter. Of course when we first started this routine his "help" was no help at all. Most of the time the ingredients land outside of the bowl or the batter spills out as a result of his carelessness. It naturally took longer to make anything. His unskillful hands did not deter me from having him help out because I see it as a training session. I want him to be a good helper and no one can be a good helper right off the bat. More importantly, I never want to squash his willing spirit. As I reflect on our earlier days, I realize that he's a real help to me nowadays. The last time I made waffles, I genuinely thought he was a great help. Yes, there are still occasional spills and mess, but he has greatly improved. He sure can mix that batter well. I am so proud of this boy.

Recently I took him to the store to buy a broom and dust pan that's more suitable for his size. Even though I haven't taught him how to properly sweep the floor, I see him grabbing the broom when he sees a mess. He revels in this new chore. I just need to take some time to teach him how to do a good job.

As for laundry, he helps me transfer clothes from the washer to the dryer, and then from the dryer to the basket. Afterwards he helps to sort clothes into four different piles: one for each person. He also helps me stack cloth diapers and fold some clothes.

I think it's very important to teach children to help out and do chores. Too often I hear parents say their older kids don't help out and the mom still does everything around the house. However, when asked if they ever trained their kids while they were young, almost all replied that they thought it was more efficient for the parents to do everything than to have their little ones help out. Yes, it's true that it's more cumbersome early on, but you'll need to invest time and energy in your children to teach them and guide them so that they become good helpers.

Many people around me are still in awe that I'm about to have my fourth child. They just cannot imagine the amount of work I have to do to keep up with four little ones. What they fail to see is that as each child grows, our goal is that he/she becomes a contributor to the family rather than simply a consumer. Why? Because we firmly believe that if we don't teach our children to help out early on, they will continue to be a consumers instead of contributing members of the family at any age.