Boyz. After having two girls, sometimes my son throws me for a loop. I hear from my mother-in-law (who had three boys) that my son is a lot like his father when he was younger. But even though I sometimes don’t understand him, he always makes life more interesting and entertaining.
So only having one boy, I don’t know if it’s a generic boy trait or just a personality trait that leads my son to a room cleaning method that lacks, well, any resemblance to actual cleaning. For most of his almost eight years of life, he hasn’t really been concerned with the state of his room, whether it’s clean, whether his toys are put away, or whether toys get lost and broken because he doesn’t take care of them. He simply has no interest, and he’s totally fine living in a room that looks like a landfill.
So it was with some incredulity that I responded to his request for a pet lizard with, “I can’t let you have a pet lizard! Look at your room!” And then before he could argue that he’d clean it, I added that it wasn’t that he just needed to clean it first, but that he needed to learn to KEEP it clean. If he can’t take care of his stuff that’s not alive, how can I give responsibility of a LIVING thing??
I’m sure you can see where this is going. Yes, we made a deal. He offered to clean his room and keep it clean for six months (and then forever after.)
I decided that if my son actually DID make a change in his habits, learn to keep his room clean, and demonstrate some responsibility–well that might actually be worth a pet lizard. I shortened the deal, and added a stipulation. He HAD to get his room clean by the end of that following weekend, all the way clean, or the deal was off. And then he has to keep it up in a reasonable fashion until Christmas.
Well, that boy must want a lizard pretty bad, because he got to work on his room all by himself. He worked on it every day from last Wednesday to last Sunday and he got it done. More than that, he’s been picking it up at night, in the mornings, and after playing. He is well on his way, and I’m really kind of hoping that he doesn’t fizzle out and give up along the way. Not that I’m looking forward to a pet lizard (eep) but I would really love for him to see this through and accomplish this, for himself.
What if he gets the lizard and then reverts to his old ways? Well, that’s certainly a possibility. We agreed that he would need to keep his room clean to keep a safe environment for a pet. But also: he has to keep new habits for SIXTEEN WEEKS to see this through. And that’s a really long time to practice some new habits — I’m hoping they stick anyway.
To help? I’ve made him a countdown calendar with lizard photos on it. We’ve looked at good beginner lizards to start with so he has something forward to. We won’t move forward on anything until we get a lot closer to Christmas but for now we’re acting like he’s going to succeed.
Of course, he has to make it the whole sixteen weeks, and there’s a good chance he won’t. There’s a good chance this deal could be a total flop. But I know he’s capable. There’s also a really good chance that this could be the most awesome lesson in responsibility ever. I guess time will tell!
Photo Credit: Lizard by Peter Griffin