We’re in a bit of a struggle, the boys and I. It’s about putting away toys. I’ll admit that I’ve been a little too lax about the whole thing. Some days I let it slide. Now with the worry of impending classes in the fall and a career on the far horizon, I realized I need help and I wasn’t doing the boys any favors by picking up their toys every other day or so. Now I remember more often to stop play and get toys picked up. You want to watch a DVD? Toys have to be picked up. You want a story time tonight? You better pick up those toys. We’re going somewhere. Pick up the toys. Since it is my house and one of the little tornadoes isn’t able to pick up after himself quite yet, I pitch in and encourage and help organize the effort.
Last Sunday, getting the boys to pick up was like pulling teeth because we were on an agenda. A thunderstorm was moving in and I had to get the boys in the pool long before it hit. I reminded them of swimming and told each boy to collect a certain type of toy to put away. Swords for Tornado E. Star Wars figures for Tornado S.
Tornado E scurried around picking up toy after toy. Tornado S moseyed around the room. Finally all that was left were random toys, and I told Tornado E to pick up five, which he did. He ran to get ready, and Tornado S finally finished his chore. I told him to pick up five more toys and then he was done. But instead he just sat on the couch.
Let the waiting begin. And the encouragement. And the warning of less swim time. And the negotiating. Tornado S refused.
Tornado E became distraught. He found a small pile of toys next to the toy organizer.
Tornado E: LOOK, TORNADO S! Look! Here are some here! You can put them away!
Tornado S refused. And refused. And refused.
Then Tornado E picked the toys up and put them away.
Tornado E: Mommy, I picked up Tornado S’s toys for him! Can we go now? Please! Tornado S did his work because I did it for him!
Me: Tornado E, you did a great job! Thank you! We’ll go, but Tornado S will not be able to swim. It is not fair for you to pick up Tornado S’s part of the mess.
Tornado E: It’s ok, Mommy! I did it for Tornado S!
Me: Thank you, Tornado E. Tornado S, we’re leaving, but you can’t go swimming because you didn’t pick up the last five toys.
Tornado S started to cry.
Tornado E: Don’t cry, Tornado S! Look! I found some toys! Come here and pick them up. (Tornado E stood by some toy trucks pointing to them. Then he ran a few feet and pointed to under the train table.) They go here, Tornado S! Hurry! You can do it!
Tornado S ran over to the trucks and then carried five of them and placed them under the table.
Tornado E: See, Mommy?! Tornado S did it! Now he can go swimming with me!
Sometimes these kids are amazing.