I read an article the other day about how we, as parents, tend to sell our kids short in regard to the household chores they are perfectly capable of completing, even from a very young age. The piece I read suggested that a child as young as six could cook scrambled eggs. Or that an eight-year-old could wash the family car. I totally agree. A six-year-old could scramble a few eggs and an eight-year-old could wash a car. Of course, that six-year-old might burn the house to the ground in the process and the eight-year-old may very well leave the front windshield so stained with hard water spots that you can’t see through it to save your life. But, eh, who am I to split hairs.
No but really. As the mother of four children, I feel as though I have a fairly good grasp of what most children are capable of doing at any given age. That’s not to say that there aren’t prodigies who can build weight-bearing bridges or decipher a strand of DNA soon after mastering toilet-training. Whiz kids most certainly do exist. Unfortunately, though I have to be the Debbie Downer and point out that those kids tend to be the exception, not the rule.
I’m all for pushing the limits and challenging kids to reach their highest potential. Admittedly, though, I’m a little bit annoyed by this author. I happen to have a six-year-old. And I can assuredly tell you that teaching him to scramble eggs isn’t the problem. The problem is that he’s not tall enough yet to reach the stove. Or the sink, for that matter. And so even if he did scramble his own breakfast eggs, I’d still have to be the clean-up crew that came behind to wipe hardened egg white from the ceramic cooktop. Thanks but no. It’s easier to scramble the eggs myself and avoid a mess in the first place.
I confess that I might fall into the category of enabling parents. My sophomore in high school is only now just beginning to do her own laundry. I’ve always done it for her, not so much to spare her but because it’s easier and more energy-efficient to wash larger loads. It’s the same with many of the household chores; it’s easier to just do it right myself the first time than to come behind and clean up after many well-intentioned attempts.
Truth be told, though, the author’s point is not entirely lost on me. If I’m being honest, I will admit that my kids are probably getting off easy at home. And while I’m not quite ready to teach cooking skills to my second grader, or hand over a chamois towel to a third grader, I’m game to push the limits a bit. Especially if it means I can retire my toilet bowl cleaning brush sometime soon; that’s one chore I wouldn’t mind handing down.