I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fix it and Stop Your Whining

I expect a fair amount from my kids - they've got chores to do which they do not get paid for, I expect them to keep track of their homework, they are expected to help around the house with non-chore jobs, and in general DH and I expect them to be responsible members of their community and their family. Sometimes I think we are a bit too demanding of them - not strict (we are anything but strict) - but we do imbue them with a feeling of responsibility for a lot of things. Sometimes a situation comes along which reinforces this concept. Allow me to share a story of how my work life and my home life collide - literally.

This past Friday was a bit of a hairy one for me, and so the kids walked to the shop to meet me (rather than head home.) I asked DS to help me carry a large (150 pax) cake out the door - we had tons of other stuff to carry, the car was parked around the corner, and a slightly dodgy back meant the crate was just that bit too heavy for me. It's not an unusual request to make, my kids have been helping (in an age appropriate sort of way) with the business for most of their lives.

So as we are walking to the car (me and DS at either end of the crate), he stumbles on a bit of uneven ground, falls down and drops his end of the crate, which causes me to drop my end of the crate. As he went down, the cake went down as well - and slid right off it's board and smashed into the side of the crate. You can just imagine the look of horror on ALL of our faces. Quicker than quick, I grabbed the crate and headed full pelt back to the shop with the kiddos chasing behind.

Good news is, the cake itself was unharmed. Bad news, the icing and decoration was totally stuffed, and had to be fixed ASAP because the cake was to be delivered very early the next day.

DS, understandably, felt horrible about it. Kept telling me he was sorry, cried, did that thing kids do when they talk to themselves under their breath about how dumb they are and how sorry they feel, and basically looked for all the world like his world was crumbling.

I let him have a few minutes of pity - because sometimes, you just NEED to feel the self pity - and then I got him to fix the cake with me. He had to stand there, looking at the mess of icing and bench full of now-unusable fondant, and smooth the new icing on, help me put the ribbon back, check the positioning of the text, clean up the cake board and so on. He didn't want to, but I MADE HIM do it. Maybe some people think this is mean - but there was a huge lesson to be learned here. You screw it up, you need to then FIX IT, because standing around feeling sorry for yourself and crying is not going to improve the situation one iota.

Of course, I did give him a massive hug (several, actually) and explain that accidents happen, that I've dropped cakes in my time (and figurines, and sugar flowers, and cupcakes, and and and and...) and that he was not at fault. Poor kid just stumbled and it could have happened to anyone, and it was not preventable. After he got the love and affection, he then got the - ON WITH IT, BOY - because there is no time for sitting around and moping. NONE. The cake *had* to be fixed. It *had* to be delivered. Life had to go on, and we had to fix something we had royally screwed up.

I think these days so many people screw stuff up, feel shit about it, but then somehow don't ever understand that unless you pick yourself up and get on with the job of fixing it, nothing will improve. So many in my generation whine endlessly about their dead end jobs, their shit partners, their horrible financial situations, their 20 kilos they can't shift, their broken cars or houses or relationships...but then don't ever do anything to fix the situations they are in. By all means, have a good ol' whinge or cry about it - I certainly do - but then GET ON WITH THE FIXING.

In the middle of the cake fixing, my boy started to smile again. His tears dried up. He even seemed to be having a good time (of course....cake is crazy good fun,) and realised that, hey, this situation is fixable. He could DO something about his feelings of sadness and guilt and upset rather than stand around and beat himself up about it.

Was I a bit stressed, a bit shitty, a bit annoyed, a bit irritated? Oh hell yes I was - but again, none of those emotions were going to get that cake sorted out. So I felt all those things, but I got on with the job of repair. No other choice. I wish my peers would realise that the same is true of the things in their lives which are broken. Feel shit, by all means...but then get on with it.

Half an hour after that cake decided to try out the effects of gravity, it was looking brand new again. My son had learned a lesson about taking responsibility for things (even those beyond your control), and that most things in life are fixable - even the cake Mummy worked so hard on. He also learned that I wasn't ever going to be angry or mad at him in this sort of situation - that instead we would work together to make the best of it. That $225 dollar cake was worth so much more than that - because it taught my son a whole lot of lessons about life, about how to repair a cake, and about the kind of support he can expect to receive from his Mum when he buggers stuff up (which he will. He's human after all.)

I think most of my generation needs to, metaphorically speaking, learn to drop a cake and then fix a cake and stop all their endless crying about it.

And ...if you think he didn't learn even MORE lessons than those I've mentioned above, let me tell you that when the cake was all done (again) and it came time to take it out to the car, I asked for his help. To which he said, "Actually, Mum, why don't I take your bag and purse, which leaves YOU free to take the cake to the car."

Clever, clever boy.

A win for cake, and a win for my kid.

Can't ask for much more than that.

1 comment:

LSM said...

It seems that far too many parents today don't want their children to have to take responsibility for anything. I am firmly with you in the "if you've broken it, you need to fix it" camp! My goal is to raise kids who can function as independent adults, and I can't figure out how they'd get there without mastering that lesson.