Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The need to be needed, useful

We all have it. It's innate, God-given. It's been amazing to see it so deeply rooted in this precious little person at such a young age. After several days of dealing with mini-screaming fits and what appeared to be a frustrated little boy, I decided to start really watching and seeing what it was he was trying to communicate. Some of it was just pure, untamed anger running rampant, but some of it was genuine frustration about wanting to be useful/helpful and not being able to do the big people things, or not being allowed to try.

So, I decided this little red-head needs more responsibility... he's craving it! We've started implementing little things into our daily routines:
  • When I vacuum the carpet, I ask him to help me unwind the cord and plug it in. Then, when we're done he RUNS over to the wall and pulls it out of the outlet, bringing the end of the cord proudly back to me. I thank him and get that winning smile in return.
  • When we're feeding Devany, we ask him to carry her feeder over to the gate and hand it up to us. Sometimes, he grunts and groans in the process, confirming that this is definitely a hefty man-chore.
  • He is responsible to carry Caspian's feed bucket (full of feed) from the tack room to the truck where he helps us hoist it into the bed of the truck.
  • He has his own spray bottle (full of water) that he can use to spray the animals with - he sees us spraying fly spray on the horses and wants to help, but since it's toxic to breathe, that is obviously not a realistic option.
  • He has a play area where his wagon/toys are located, but it is part of our "work area" at the barn, so he is very much an active part of the hustle and bustle of morning/evening chores. When his toys are pulled out of the wagon he is always good about putting them back in when we're finished. His friend Sophia has really helped to teach him this.
  • When we fill water buckets he is the "hose holder" and, yes, water often does not make it into the buckets but the wasted water is well worth the happiness it brings to that sweet little helper. He's always soaked afterward, but there's isn't anything wrong with riding home in nothing but a diaper.
  • He has his own "man sized" broom which he uses to help mommy sweep out the tack room after all the chores are finished.
  • He has been assigned the task of helping mommy with cooking. He pulls a chair up to the counter and helps munch on yummies that are just lying around idle, runs his fingers through the batter no matter what stage of preparation it is in, rearranges the silverware drawer in an often extremely unique fashion, wipes the counter top with a washcloth, stirs when something needs to be stirred and is the chief taste tester of all prepared and unprepared food items.
  • There are many other examples, but this is a start. Today he "helped" Auntie take apart our vacuum cleaner, using his screw driver to assist as much as possible, lifting the vacuum up and back down, bringing a washcloth over to clean the vacuum, etc.
The best part of this new process of trying to make it clear that he is a valued and important part of what we do every day is how it is reflected in him. When we put him to bed for his nap, or at nighttime for the rest of the evening, he no longer fusses. We give a brief recap of the day and tell him how much we appreciate all his wonderful help and how hard he works. We tell him about some of the things that we will probably be doing the next day and how much he needs sleep to be ready for tomorrow and he just lays down in his bed and nods off to sleep.

It's almost scary to realize how much he understands, how much he absorbs. He is created in God's image with so many unique abilities. He has such a desire to be needed and to be useful to the people who love him. And let me tell you, this Mommy loves him!


Gwendolyn said...

I love how you so descriptively paint the unfolding life of our dear Bundle. Oh how I miss him. Your blog and snapshots are the second best thing to being there. Keep it up. You are such a wonderful Momie!

susan said...

I AGREE!!!!!

denisemayen said...

So much truth to that! I see some of the same things with Contessa. I'm going to borrow some of your ideas for including C in our daily tasks--there's such a need to be helpful! Miss you girl!

kmac said...

What a wonderful post. Your boys are blessed to have a mommy like you.