For the better part of a year now we have been frustrated by and working on Philip’s laziness.
I mean it.
And I know, I know, how wonderful considering my own well documented slothful habits. Except, nothing is more annoying and unsettling than seeing in your beloved children the traits you loathe most about yourself. It is sooooo painful.
Equally painful is the realization that my mother’s muttering while I was a child was actually a curse upon my future offspring to be just like me. Why, mom? WHYYYYYY!?!?! (I am sorry mom! Culpa, culpa, mea culpa!)
Growing up I carried around numerous nicknames (some of which I am still in counseling about . . . Annie-rexic? Chicken Legs? Right.) but the one that was most maddening was Helpless Harriet. Oh, how I bristled under that title! I would steam and mope and rage when mom would use it on me. Or worse yet, when she would regale me with stories from my past to illustrate the aptness of the name. Gah! Her favorite memory was when she found me, an able bodied 7 year-old, shivering in the bathtub and whimpering. The kicker? My towel was in my reach, I was just too helpless to get it.
Oh, ho, ho!!!
However, now I understand why she would giggle every time she told that story or laugh until she cried at my perceived peril. She HAD too. If she didn’t laugh, she’d cry at the madness of it all.
I get it. I really, really get it.
Which brings me back to Philip. The kid has mastered the art of doing nothing. I do believe his motto has become “Ask not what you can do for your family, but what your family can do for you.” He stands back and lets his siblings carry the weight of responsibility. And they do. Lord love ’em, I don’t think it even registers with them any more it has become so normal. Even when they don’t need to give him help, they step in.
Take for example a moment last week: Philip stood in their room surrounded by shoes and wailing about not knowing where his shoes were. Without missing a beat during the story he was telling me, Max picked up the shoe Philip was standing on and put it on him. He repeated the process, Philip walked away and Max finished his story.
What the . . .?
Don’t get me wrong, I love that my children serve one another. I love that they see the need in their sibling and answer it. But I don’t love the enabling that happens in the process. Philip now knows that during chores he can disappear or twiddle his thumbs enough and his brother and sister will take care of it for him. We have tried all sorts of approaches to remedy this emerging pattern, but my favorite (because I’m lazy . . . ), is telling Max and Tess that they can keep doing everything for Philip but, if they do, he’ll never learn to take care of himself and I won’t take responsibility for that. They can take him when he turns 18.
It’s my way of laughing at the situation.
All of this is to say that I saw a glimpse of what is to come if we keep on this road.
It’s not pretty, but it’s pretty funny:
Yup, that’s the boy. Sleeping in a cardboard box.
It’s my new go-to story for him. I plan to retell it to him every chance I get.
OK – in my defense (and Philip’s), my biggest fear for my Helpless Harriet was that in times of serious peril, she would not step up to take of herself or even get a drink if dehydrated. You have proven again and again that inspite of a childhood of letting others do for you or making excuses as to why you should not do for yourself, you Can Take Care of Things, AND you do an awesome job of taking care of your family.
Please do not tell Philip he will be a bum in a box someday… just encourage him to do for himself (with maybe a nickname or 2 thrown in for good measure;-\