Sunday, May 7, 2023

Teaching Patience.

 William has been doing a lot of lawn mowing and helping out with whatever project we are in the midst of. He's been stashing money away for the VR, which is hidden away until he earns the necessary $250 that we spent to buy a used one. At this point, he has tucked away $144 towards it, and the end goal is in sight. 

He had a couple lawn mowing jobs lined up and was begging for more work. I gave him the job to sweep out the garage at the rental. It is a two car garage with an attached workshop, and it was admittedly a big job. It was also a $10 job, and he was chomping at the bit to get that done. 

I went out to the garage with him, and I explained how it needed to be done. I showed him the debris in the corners and against the walls. I told him to sweep the stuff from one side to the middle of the garage, and then go to the other side, and start sweeping that to the line of dirt in the middle of the garage. Once you got that done, simply sweep the big line of dirt into a big pile of dirt. I explained that since it was a $10 job, and that he would be required to do a good job. 

Enthusiastically, he told me that he would do a good job, and I headed off to do the kitchen. 

Five minutes later, he was in the kitchen. "I'm all done," he proclaimed. 

I knew that he couldn't be, but we walked back out. He had swept, but there were random circles of clean space with a pile of debris in the center of each them. 

I showed him again, how to sweep methodically, pointing out the stuff that he was missing. He was obviously irritated. and as usual, he desperately needed to have the last word. No matter what I said, he responded, "I did the best I could." 

It was another chance for me to practice patience. 

"William, did you or did you not miss some spots?" 

He agreed that he had, but added "I did the best I could." 

I turned and walked back to the house. 

Five minutes later, he was back in. "I got it done." 

I went back out, and pointed out why he wasn't. 

This went on for another couple rounds. He was getting mighty mad. I was struggling to keep my own cool. "Listen William, you're in such a rush to finish the job that you're not even trying to follow instructions and that's a part of doing a good job. I'm not going to fight with  you about it. We're talking about a hour's worth of work, if you do it right. If you are not going to do a good job, you are not getting paid the full $10. The choice is yours." 

He insisted he wanted $10. 

I said, "Well, then you need to follow instructions. I've given you the same instructions. I've demonstrated." 

He got mad then. In the end, I said, "William, this is getting really frustrating. When you work at a job, you need to do the job to your boss' expectations. I'm not going to continue debating with you. Sometimes you need to listen and be willing to take instruction. I'm not paying the full $10. I am deducting $2.50 for your attitude. You can stop right here. The job is half done. You will get $5. If you want to earn the last $2.50, you can finish it." 

I headed back to the kitchen yet again, letting him decide how he was going to handle it. 

He did get the job done, and he got it done right. I scrubbed the refrigerator and we discussed what happened. He apologized. We talked about how apologies need to be a starting point, that if you're sorry, that means you've seen what you need to change, and you begin to try to change that behavior. 

He got his act together, and he cheerfully helped for the next couple hours while we reassembled the kitchen. His grandfather came back from a morning worth of errands, and William mowed two lawns under Tim's supervision (he's still new at this.) He wound up earning a princely sum of $32.50 for the two lawn mowing jobs, his allowance, and the garage.

This morning, he helped me clean kitchen. I asked him to sweep the kitchen floor for me. He told me that he knew how to do a good job. I moved into the livingroom to continue working, leaving him unsupervisied. He did an exacting and careful job. 

When I walked back out into the kitchen, he was just finishing up. He did a great job. I told him so. 

26 comments:

  1. It would have been easy to just give him the 10 bucks and finish the garage yourself. Easier than having this valuable conversation that will stay with William the rest of his life. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing is gained when things come too easily. We really believe that. We want him to experience the satisfaction of achieving goals. We want him to see that hard work opens a lot of doors.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. I was very encouraged when I walked into the kitchen. I felt like he had done a very good job. I was also able to congratulate myself on doing a good job with him.

      Delete
  3. Hard work on both sides..but worth it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I struggle with myself mostly, to say the right words in the right tone in a way that encourages, not discourages. He can learn. If I do things right.

      Delete
  4. By Jove, he got it!
    (My Fair Lady)

    ReplyDelete
  5. When I was about William's age I worked for a local farmer at weekends. He always taught me to stand back and look at a job when I'd finished it and appraise it for myself. If you always do a good job you can feel proud of yourself several times a day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's still learning that. His motivation is always the money not job satisfaction. I expect that pride in a job wll done will follow along at some point.

      Delete
  6. Err.. this is going to sound totally mad but.. I vacuum my garage. My Mum thought I was loopy but then she tried it and agreed it was actually the easiest way to clean it fast. We've got two vacuums, one is older and perfect for dirtier jobs like that. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought I was bad. I've got a vacuum for upstairs and downstairs.

      Delete
  7. A subject near and dear to my heart as I have done almost the same routine with my kids. Unfortunately, they haven't learned nearly as quickly as William. They just take the reduced fee and go about life. But I admire their ability to be mad at me for harping on them about doing a good job the first time and ten minutes later we can be all good again. I wish I could switch gears that easily.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. William's frustration is almost always gone as soon as the task is complete.

      Delete
  8. We tried the allowance thing, and the pay for work done thing with our son. It was a bitter failure as he tried to do the minimal amount of work, and then spent more time trying to extort even more money for doing something that he already should have been doing, since he lived in the house, too. UGH! We ended up not paying him anything. No allowance. If he wanted something, he had to save birthday money or gift money. We despaired for his future, the little terrorist. Today, at 31, he is the hardest worker, gives 110 %, and has made and saved more money than we ever had. Who knew??!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Allowance is for basically, his ADLs. When he arrived, he was a kid that just sat passively, waiting to be told what to do. He's 12. He's old enough to take care of himself. His allowance covers the routine before school, after school, and before he goes to bed. We don't have to specifically TELL him to get his back pack or to put on his shoes or brush his teeth. He gets a dollar a day for taking care of his own business. He can double that by simply using the list on the refrigerator so that he can get the tasks accomplished without being told. As to chores around the house, he's expected to pitch in an help out. When I cook, I cook for everyone. When I do laundry, I wash everyone's laundry. We all work together to keep the house running smoothly. That's what families do. The jobs that he gets paid for are the jobs that we need to get done at rentals or renovations. He mows two lawns that belong to very elderly folks (they are tiny, and to be honest, he's overpaid for one of them, but the woman adores him and always has a snack for him. We don't negotiate with terrorists. :) We offer the job (he usually asks for them) and set the terms at the beginning.

      Delete
  9. We’ll have to see whether or not these lessons are transferable to later in life. I am thinking that they probably will be, but it is hard to know for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will be evident soon enough, we think. We will see what happens when he finally gets his VR.

      Delete
  10. He is learning. So are you. It's not easy for either of you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. It's not, but it is rewarding. The vantage point is a little different. We have seen children grow into responsible adults, We know it can happen to William too.

      Delete
  11. You're a good teacher as a parent. Your key word "patience.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Replies
    1. I learned my best lessons from doing things the wrong way!

      Delete
  13. I am proud of you both! Putting in the effort takes practice (says she with a dusty living room)!
    Bonnie in Minneapolis

    ReplyDelete
  14. You handled that well, hopefully William learned something from this.

    ReplyDelete

I'm glad you're here!

Tim has a DIY Christmas

 Houdi continues to do alright. He's not himself, but he eats and he drinks. He is a bit more reclusive than usual, but he's stopped...