Do It Yourself

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“Please, just let me do it!”

“No! I wanna do it all by myself!”

These phrases can be heard frequently at our house. I struggle between wanting to raise independent kids and dreading the mess it will invariably cause. It seems like the jobs I’m happy to let them take over, like cleaning their rooms and organizing the abyss that is our playroom, do not fall under the “Mom, I want to do this all by myself” category. The tasks I want them to embrace with a dogged independence seem to require both a cheerleader and a whip cracker the entire time.

But they are adamant about scaling the clutter filled kitchen counters to fetch the good scissors “all by themselves.” Helping would be an insult. They demand they make their own peanut butter sandwiches so they can mix copious amounts of peanut butter and jam together in a separate bowl, leave the leftovers out for Dean to smear wherever his little heart desires, leave the bread bag open to stale, all while dirtying no less than 5 different dishes, because they can “do it all by themselves.” But clean up that mess? It’s “too hard.” Their burning need for independence is such a fickle flame.

Last night, in the short time it took me to fetch the neighbor babysitter, they decided to make, and I quote, “a toast tower.” They used the entire loaf of bread, crumbs were everywhere, the butter dish was demolished, they thought we were out of cinnamon sugar (we weren’t) so they decided to make their own, spilling the sticky granules and dusting the floor with that exotic bark until…well, the best thing I can say about that whole fiasco is that at least my vacuum bag smells like cinnamon now. Part of me is glad they take initiative. The other part wants to cry out, “Why couldn’t you just wait for me to make you some toast!!”

So there I was with my high heels on, running late, the babysitter standing right behind me soaking in her new charges for the evening…what else could I do?  I grabbed a wet rag and told the kids,

“Just let me do this all by myself!”

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