Friday, December 30, 2011

Labor and love

After my last post, one of my loyal readers gave me a great piece of advice. I wrote about how our oldest son, Josh, is jealous of the attention given to his youngest brother. Vicky told me to try giving him responsibility, investing in his status as the oldest as a way of making him feel important.

I tried that the other day, and it actually worked!

The youngest boy was napping, the middle boy was next door with his best friend, and Josh was moping around the house asking if I would turn on the television. I told him he needed to earn the TV by helping me in the backyard. I said he's big enough, mature enough and strong enough, and I could really use his help. I've been working on chopping, splitting and stacking the massive tree that toppled, and it's the truth – I really could use his help.

So he followed me outside and we got to work. I cut with the chainsaw and split with the maul, while he filled the wheelbarrow and stacked the wood. We spent 30 to 40 minutes doing this, and I repeatedly praised him for the effort. He even seemed happy.

With the sun setting, we packed up the operation for the day, went inside, and I thanked him for being such a great helper. Then I turned on the TV for him.

I knew it had been a successful effort, but I didn't realize how successful until later that night. To set the scene, I need to rewind a little bit. Josh is 7, and for every day of his life, Mom has been #1. Josh and I have never been as close as Josh and Mom. Matthew is my little shadow, but Josh is often my adversary.

Well, on this night, Josh said something I haven't heard in ... well, I can't remember ever hearing it before. We were joking around as a family, Matthew was singing the K-I-S-S-I-N-G song and kissing his mother on the cheek, and Josh said, "I love my Daddy." I stayed calm, but my heart leaped inside. I took a moment to tell everyone what a great helper Josh had been, and at bedtime I gave Josh an extra long 'thank you' and 'I-love-you' tuck-in.

As I look back, I realize this is just a small moment. If I want to be close to Josh when he's 16, I'll need a lot more bonding between now and then. But this is a good start, and it's nice to know my son loves me. Thanks, Vicky.


  1. Well, this week I am working on the advice I will be dispensing to you in the future, Scott.

    Aaah, the blessings of being on 'IGNORE" for "being the only parent on the planet" taking away texting...

    When on 'IGNORE', it means I wont be spoken to until I finally give in to the din of unresounding silence and unwelcome solitude and restore texting. Since one son said he felt 'declined' in his social networking, it renewed my constitution to stick to my guns, without review. Sometimes we have to manufacture hardships on our streamlined society.

    It's also a great teaching moment on 'Across The Board Policy' and 'Reciprocity' for my teen policymakers.

    I may not hear you when you ask for my car. Coffee for one, not two. Snacktime for one, where's two? Oh, I can't hear you. I am left alone in the hot tub for torturous extended periods of time, and left to my own poor devices without conversation at the end of a long hard day.

    I have yet to see an incentive to restore.

  2. Witch, you make me laugh. That's one of your best posts ever. Never fear. You will survive the silence, and they will survive the decline in their social networking. Stay strong!