“Miss Susan, don’t you just love cleaning up? I could work and work and work all day!” five-year-old C. said to me. She was so cheery, I expected her to break out whistling like one of the Seven Dwarfs. I was hanging out with my two pint-sized buds while their mother took their baby brother to do errands. The girls’ room was a disaster after they had emptied every drawer onto the floor. The older one, C., asked me if I would help her put everything back in order.
“I love helping Mommy,” C. said. “When she comes home and sees how clean our room is, she will be very happy. I like to make my mom happy. Did you like to do that when you were a little girl?”
I thought back to earlier in the morning when I chatted on the phone with my daughter. My thirteen-year-old granddaughter had just been grounded for the weekend and would miss the end-of-the-year school party at a friend’s house. My daughter told me, “She said she didn’t care. She didn’t want to go to that party anyway.” Hmmm…don’t think my granddaughter cared a hoot about making her mom happy. And I know for a fact that she doesn’t like to work and work and work all day. She doesn’t like to work for five minutes!
Does someone up there just pull a switch when kids reach a certain age? Where does the manual say that when a child approaches teenager status, she turns from an agreeable bundle of sweetness to a snarly, pouty, mouthy young adult? In fact, where is that manual anyway? I think some enterprising parent should keep notes as the kids are growing up and write down all the scenarios that could arise and the best ways to handle each. It wouldn’t help that parent, of course, but think of the bucks young parents just starting out would pay for a foretaste of what’s to come. I’d do it myself, but I’m still trying to black out some of those moments.