Because I am always looking for an advantage when it comes to prodding him along to mastering life skills, I have turned this into my latest tool. Yes, I am the ninja mom of spying out the advantages I can take in my battles with my child. No, I feel absolutely no shame in this.
One of our many skirmishes involves Kiddo’s bath. He likes me to wash him. I think he finds great comfort in having me scrub his spindly little body while he luxuriates as Lord and Master of All He Surveys. I’m sure it’s relaxing. Yet it is something that he needs to take responsibility for.
So I wash his back and hair for him, since these particular areas are still problematic. Then I hand him the soap-lathered washcloth. “Time to wash your feet,” I instruct, because he needs the initial prompt to get going. Once he washes his feet, he’ll move up his body on his own.
It’s the start that is hard to master. He’s enjoyed having his back scrubbed and his scalp massaged. He’s at his ease. “You wash the feet,” he tells me.
Until last month when he turned the grand old age of nine, a back-and-forth of several minutes would ensue at this point.
“No, you can wash your own feet.”
“You wash it, Mommy.”
“Wash them. You have plural feet, so you wash them, not it. Now wash your feet.”
“You wash them, Mommy.”
And so it went until he bowed to my tyranny. What a cruel despot of the household I am.
Then he became a nine-year-old, and the proud pronouncements of such gave me a new weapon to wield.
“Wash your feet.”
“You wash the feet.”
“I can’t. I can only wash your feet if you are eight years old.”
“I am NOT eight years old. I am nine years old.”
“Then you’re a big boy. If you’re nine years old, you have to wash your feet. Are you nine?”
“Yes. I am nine years old.”
“Then wash your feet, big boy.”
After a moment’s consideration, the proud young man gets to scrubbing. After all, he’s not an eight-year-old baby now. He is a nine-year-old boy. It’s time to man up and wash up.
Age does matter. Thank goodness.