One of My Most Dreaded Questions, “Can I Help You”

When I was a child I loved asking my dad if I could help him.  I enjoyed participating on construction sites using a hammer or laying tile.  As a child and even into adult hood I helped my dad with many tile jobs.  Through the years I thought I actually was helping.  Over time I did eventually excel at the job.  Now that I’m a dad, I realize I probably was more of a burden in my younger years.  Which is why this is my most dreaded question, “can I help you?”

Can I Help You?

Johanna loves to help.  She loves to water the plants.  If she hears the dishes clanking, she pulls a chair over to help.  If either Jolene or myself are doing the laundry, she wants to fold.  While getting the mail she wants to hold everything, eventually dropping nearly all the envelopes.  In many ways I am lucky because she wants to help.  However, when I hear the question, “can I help you,” I know the task will become a lot more time consuming.

Johanna watered the plants today.  In reality she took her little pot and sprinkled everything.  Her watering was not enough to keep the plants alive in this hundred degree weather.  So after having to wait for her to finish I finally watered the plants.  While making food she likes to stir or cut vegetables, etc.  Her little hands can only do so much, and only so fast.  So while the rest of the food is ready I still have to wait for her to finish.

We have a lot of tile in our downstairs.  Since we have dogs I occasionally sweep the floors and mop.  Johanna loves to run the mop, sloshing water everywhere. Mid task she will drop the mop and run away from boredom.  Leaving a larger mess to clean up.  There are many other tasks that she loves to help with.  Help is a bit subjective though.

I do count myself lucky.  Most children I’ve been exposed to don’t have a passion to help.  Hopefully soon her helping will actually be a help and reduce time on tasks.  Sometimes I have to get certain tasks done by a certain time.  With her helping everything takes longer.  That’s where the dread of the question of can I help you comes in.  That’s also where my extended patience has to quickly set in.  That’s where I’ve learned to step back and let her help.  The alternative is for her to throw a tantrum and take even longer time dealing with that.

Everything she asks to help on is a way of teaching responsibility.  We are using it as a teaching activity.  She learns to keep everything clean.  She learns to cook and maintain the garden.  She learns to know how to do the laundry.  So many children grow up and never really learn these menial tasks.  Students entering college or moving out on their own go into adulthood not having a basic understanding of having to live on their own.  It is my hope that all this extra time will go to good use in raising a child into a proper equipped adult.  I am glad though that she wants to help now as in the future Johanna will learn that chores are a requirement.  They are not for pay but to be expected as a responsibility.  Not everything will be handed to her.  She will not be entitled.  Hopefully the tasks she learns now will lead her to be successful.  At least that is my prayer.

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