Today his chores, tomorrow the world!
When it comes to Kiddo’s take on the way things work, he doesn’t do what doesn’t benefit him in some way. If there is no concrete reason for it, then there is no reason for it at all. Thanks to autism, he doesn’t see intangibles as really existing. Things like, it makes Mommy happy or the house looks nice for company or brushing one’s own teeth shows you are becoming a big boy – no, these are not important in a mostly black and white world. I get the attitude. It’s like my own when it comes to making my bed...no one but me and Hubs goes into our bedroom and we’re just going to get back into it that night. What’s the point?
I’d like to say I’m doing something productive with the two minutes I don’t use to make the bed, but I’m probably just picking my toenails somewhere.
Imagine my shock and delight then, when Kiddo did a chore for something that didn’t cost me money. Oh, he still expected payment all right, but not in the form of toys or anything physically tangible. He did it to spend time with me.
It happened on Laundry Day, the one housecleaning item I cannot avoid. Among the many activities Kiddo’s school is always trying to guilt-trip us into participating in, Fun Naked Day is not among them. So dirty clothes must be washed and dried and folded and put away.
Kiddo wanted me to play remote-controlled cars with him. Quite frankly, I wanted to play too. Sending cars racing through the house to crash into walls and furniture and Hubs’ delicate ankles is a delight for me and child. However, there are days I impersonate a responsible adult. So I told my son, “I have to get this laundry put away. After I'm done, we'll play.”
He watched me for a few seconds as I worked on eradicating piles of neatly folded laundry. He considered the stacks of his socks, underwear, shirts, and pants. Then without any prompting whatsoever, he gathered his socks and went to his room.
As I shuttled back and forth putting away towels, sheets, and my clothing, Kiddo put his belongings where they needed to be. Shirts were even hung neatly rather than being flung in the closet, which would be what I imagine he would do. I gaped in astonishment as he diligently worked with pants hangers and stacked underwear in his drawer.
We both finished putting away at the same time. As he handed me the remote control to one of his cars and said, “Mommy plays now,” my heart nearly burst wide open. His reward for performing a chore/life skill was time with me. It was the only thing he wanted then and there. I rarely see myself as any prize, but I was one to my son. Who’d have thunk?
Kids really do want their parents' time and attention. Sometimes we're better than toys. It's nice to be reminded that once in a while, the only investment expected is the cheapest and yet most valuable one of all.