Creativity and Chores
Yesterday, I had an 8 year old in the house for about 7 hours, give or take. Plus about 20 minutes travel time. It was my godson.
My turtle-man is an interesting dude. He has incredibly firm opinions on things, and is incredibly sure he is correct in those firm opinions. If he doesn’t have a firm opinion on a thing, he will pretty much state that unequivocally and either ask you about it until he decides what he thinks/doesn’t care or simply state I dunno and I don’t care. It’s refreshing, in the way that kids can be refreshing. It can also be exhausting.
Yesterday was pretty good. I picked him up from his mom on her way out of town, from the restaurant where she’d fed him lunch. He was incredibly excited because he’d been bugging us for a sleepover for a month or so now. I did not understand this extremely persistent desire, but finally gave into it because a) there wasn’t any reason not to other than scheduling (which finally lined up) and b) it was useful in the moment because mom was going out of town and dad had an unpleasant farm chore that no one really wanted the turtle-man to have to experience up close and personal. Plus, they don’t live that far away, and if he had a panicky-wanna-go-home impulse, I could take him home or dad could grab him, depending on when said impulse happened.
We discussed the fact (before he even got picked up) that Sundays in my life are not about church. They are about chores. It would not be terribly exciting at our house for an 8 year old, and he might even get roped into helping. He generously offered to even clean toilets without complaining! (We did not make him clean toilets.) So, when he came back to the house, I had him help me strip the beds for washing the sheets, and even remake one of the beds.
I think in some ways he liked it. There was a little bit of Goldilocks – “This bed is VERY soft!” in response to the bed my honey and I typically sleep in, which is large and has a reactive gel top; “This bed is very tall! The mattress is so thick!” in response to the pillow-top in the spare bedroom. Also, he wanted to know whose room the spare room was. I explained it was the guest room. So friends, my sister who visits, and even he could sleep over. But that sometimes I slept there too, for random reasons. (My sweetie snores, I snore when I have bad allergies, sometimes I just want a colder bed, or even if I’m sick and feel like being alone.) He laughed, and said that his dad snores a lot.
When we were done, he noted the Wii. He almost always notes the Wii, and almost always has to be reminded that we have essentially no games. I have the Wii for the fit-board that I don’t use as regularly as I should. So not only are there no games (it came with MarioKart I think), but the batteries are almost always dead in the controllers and it is a big mess to get running. There would be no Wii. This I think, was his first reminder that Mama Trina is just a boring old grown up, in addition to being godmom.
Her hubby however, was perfectly willing to let an 8 year old help wash cars. This was fun. He seemed to enjoy that. And when he got back in, we made cookies.
Cookies, for me, can be very soothing but I can also be … detail oriented about them. It’s a very different thing for me making cookies with a child, because I have to let go of a number of things that I find relaxing about baking (namely, the gentle repetitive nature of some of the steps), and just get in a good dough base and let him go nuts. The cookies ended up being … stuffed. Flat dark chocolate disks, mini milk chocolate chips and lumps of caramel all got dumped in, for about 8 ounces of extra interior goop than the recipe really called for. Also, he got to size several trays to his choice, rather than the size I usually make (which he deems as very much too small). They all came out just fine, and I sent the majority home with him.
Then, we had soft tacos and a movie. He hadn’t seen Big Hero 6, and we’d just bought it, so it was still wrapped. He seemed to enjoy it, and we certainly did as well. Sure enough though, as the movie and some of the extra features were wrapping up, he sat straight up, and demanded to know, “Hey! Isn’t my dad coming to get me?”
“You don’t want to spend the night?”
“No! I want to go to school on time in the morning!”
“Okay, we’ll call him, although he was going to check in soon…” and just as I reach for my phone, it rings. His dad was just waiting on his sister to get home from church and he wanted to see how things were going. I explained, and they came out to get him.
I even got a bit of fiction writing in before my bedtime, after they’d gone. Part of me thinks the baking helped with that. Part of me thinks having someone young and different around helped.
I still think, mostly, that I was a convenient excuse to try to get out of hanging out at home and then he had second thoughts. But I don’t mind. I remember having second thoughts myself as an 8 year old on a sleep-over. And the turtle-man got to see a film, see how a different set of grown-ups do chores (he has a lot of experience doing chores at his house, but they are more farm-related and involve feeding pigs, chicks, goats, ducks and dogs), and take home cookies, which he associates strongly with me. So overall, not a bad Sunday.