Good intentions

My eldest came home from Scouts with a letter about yet another camp. He says he would like to do some jobs to earn the money to pay for it.

I’m really pleased with him about this – that he realises money doesn’t grow on trees and you can’t automatically have everything you want. He knows we work for our money, so I’m glad that he’s volunteering to work for his too.

But I do have an issue… While I would love him to empty the bins and do the hoovering (though I suspect it would all need doing again afterwards), there are many things he does wrong every single day which need sorting out first. There’s no way I’m going to pay him to empty the dishwasher if he can’t do some very basic things an 11 year old boy (or in many cases a 4 year old boy) should be able to do.

He’s not a bad kid – teachers and other kids’ parents adore him – so I don’t understand why he can’t just get to grips with this stuff. We tell him about these thing every day, but he still does them wrong every day.

He drops his clothes all over the floor – and not just in his bedroom. Scouts day (or rugby day) means two lots of clothes go on the floor. When I ask him to put them away, he simply shoves them in the wash – whether they are dirty or not.

He does homework for up to 10 whole minutes a day. In the lounge. On the floor. Or maybe the armchair. Sometimes on the floor AND the armchair. And then he leaves it there until he gets shouted at. Sometimes someone will inadvertently put it in the wrong place or even mess it up and he will get upset. WELL PUT IT AWAY PROPERLY THEN! We bought a desk for the dining room a year ago, specifically so the kids would have somewhere they could do their homework. But there’s no telly in there. He might be forced to actually concentrate on it.

He leaves wrappers in his pockets. I swear there are more wrappers in his pockets than he actually eats – does he provide some sort of disposal service for his friends at school? They all end up floating around in the washing machine, that’s all I know.

He forgets to do his mouthwash. His teeth are not the best. In fact, they’re dreadful. I don’t know why they’re dreadful, but all I know is he needs to work damn hard to give them any chance of surviving into adulthood. But he doesn’t.

Ditto all personal hygiene – forgets deodarant and hairbrushing and lets his lips get into a sore, ugly mess because he can’t be bothered. My fear here is that he will get picked on at school.

He never does his shoelaces up. I’m pretty sure he can’t actually do shoelaces, but he swears he can. So he walks around with his shoes flopping off his feet and the laces trailing. Again, I worry he will be bullied for it. If I thought it would only be a one-off (rather than something that went on for five years and is never forgotten by the bullies) – I actually wouldn’t mind this. The bullies might get him to do something I’ve failed to get him to do in the last four or five years.

He winds his brother and sister up deliberately. He knows what he’s doing, he knows they will get upset, he knows we will get cross, but he still does it.

He makes a mess with his breakfast and doesn’t clear up.

Frankly, if he could sort all that out once and for all, I would gladly pay for his Scout camp and he wouldn’t ever need to go near the hoover. It would be worth its weight in gold to me. A tidier house and a happy family for the cost of one weekend away? That’s a bargain.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Oh my word, I think this must be ever 11/12 yr old everywhere, boys and girls! It drives me potty that they ALL put their clothes straight into the wash bin even if they have only worn them for 1 hour! As for mouth wash, even I forget to do that!! Good luck 🙂 Interestingly, I had never really considered them doing jobs for going on trips like this….food for thought.

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  2. Sounds like a typically easily distracted 11 year old to me. Get him to do the shoelaces in front of you so that you know, he might need help with them, but not want to look stupid by saying he can’t do them.

    I think rewarding him with money for doing the whole job properly through to the end might help him remember to finish some other things.

    You can only tackle the things he doesn’t do well, one at a time. If that means one chore at a time, then that could be quite good for him.

    Speak to school. If his attention wanders a lot and he doesn’t remember to finish things there, then it might be worth speaking to someone to see if there is an underlying issue or not.

    I remember even as a teen, I’d try on clothes, drop them on the floor and rather than hanging them up, I’d just put them in the washing basket for my mum.

    Believe me, 10 minutes every day is more than most at that age will willingly do. Switch off all tellys until all homework is finished. Even finding out what homework my kids have is almost impossible. I’d love to have one that voluntarily did 10 minutes at a time without being under threat of losing all electrics.

    Tackle them one thing at a time. If he is so easily distracted, getting them all perfectly and all at the same time will be impossible.

    Good luck, but I’d go with the chores for cash as it’s basically just rewarding the behaviour you want to get. Once those tasks are being done properly, move onto the next ones.

    Pick your chores wisely. The ones that irritate you the most would be the best ones to get him to do I suspect.

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  3. Good luck.
    We have cub camp £25 and my cub has been making sandwiches for school lunches.

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  4. Thanks very much, Scottish Mum, I really appreciate all of that. To be honest, if he achieves even half of it, I know it’ll be worth it. The TV (and iPad) is a big problem – when I’m home I won’t let them turn it on as soon as they get in, but when my parents have them she lets them. He’s never going to start his homework, or concentrate on it, with the telly on.
    I don’t think there are any underlying issues. He’s actually a bright kid – well above average. He doesn’t quite achieve his potential in his written work, but he does well in class.

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  5. Thanks very much, Suzanne and PinkOddy!
    To be honest, I hadn’t thought of it either, Suzanne. Wouldn’t have considered it if he hadn’t offered himself. We are already paying for a big, expensive Scout camp next summer. This is a smaller one in a few weeks, so it’s a good idea to get him thinking about the cost of it, I think.

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