A fellow blogger has sweetly posted for me a description of a therapy technique called Soup Kitchen. The basic premise is that a child's job is to be a contributing member of the family (do chores, be pleasant to be around... RRHAFTBA(LL). If the child is not doing his or her job then he gets fired. Unemployed people eat at the Soup Kitchen. No limits on the type or amount of soup, but nothing but soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until the child starts consistantly doing his job again and doing it well. (For my friend's daughter the pre-arranged time was 3 days of doing her job right.)
Lately none of my children have been doing their jobs!
Even if you only look at chores as their "job," they're completely failing. Add in attitude and you can see why they deserve to be "fired."
Hubby, Grandma and I have talked alot lately about Bear "flying under the radar." When he "cleans" a room, he just shoves things out of sight. To him it's clean if there's not a layer of stuff, but vacuuming or using cleansers doesn't seem to be happening. The question is, is he playing the game - figuring out exactly what the minimum is and only doing that, or does he really not know the higher standard we're expecting and only does what he's been trained/forced to do. I'll admit there is no way I want to work next to him and show him the right way to do things.
When you look in Bear's room it generally looks clean. There are no sheets on his bed, it smells, and his desk is covered in sunflower seeds and half full glasses, but the floor is mostly picked up. When you walk into Bear's room, you discover that tons of stuff is piled up on the other side of his furniture where you can't see it from the door. In his closet he had 4 full laundry baskets. I didn't search them, but the one closest to the door appeared to be a mixed load (supposedly everyone does their own laundry so their clothes don't get mixed together, but of course this doesn't always happen) of mostly Kitty's sheets and blankets. Another basket appeared to have his clothes, but was one of my baskets (all the baskets are labeled for the same reason!).
I told Bear he needed to return Kitty's sheets and blankets and got grumped at that he was "using them for pillows" because his was "too small." I told him this was not an acceptable solution, and he needed to put "new pillow" on the shopping list and return Kitty's linens. I mentioned that I'd noticed my basket in there and he needed to return it. Then I let it drop. He stormed upstairs.
Grandma was looking through Bear's room for some missing library books he'd checked out, and looked under his bed. It was stuffed with books and papers so she asked me to go through them with him, and to remind him that it was not OK to use under his bed for storage. She asked me if I'd done this before and I realized I hadn't. I've searched and cleaned his room before, but never with him because I wanted to find contraband without giving him a chance to pocket it and without an argument.
Yesterday chore was "Clean your room." I asked him if he'd done his chores. He said yes. I asked him about the laundry baskets. He got defensive. I told him I wanted my laundry basket back. He said it was full. I replied he'd had it for quite awhile, he needed to put the laundry away. He said it was dirty. I told him then wash it!! Last night the basket was in my room, and the linens are no longer in his room, but the clothes are piled on a shelf not washed or put away.
Kitty has never been good about doing her chores without someone forcing her to (usually triggering a meltdown if you won't let her melt away - go walk in circles in the backyard or hide in her room with her music blaring), and she does them so poorly that you have to question, is this the best she's capable of, a learned behavior, or is she just really lazy? She really is oblivious in general - she walks on stuff without having a clue it's underfoot, leaves trails of food everywhere, just plain doesn't notice or care if things are kneedeep in cr*p.
Bob is a packrat and a bookworm. Her room is jammed full of stuff, knick knacks, books, clothes, pillows, stuffed animals... a typical teenager. I don't expect perfection, but I do want to be able to see the floor. Bob rarely leaves her room. She is usually laying on her bed reading a book (sometimes schoolwork, but most of the time for pleasure). The problem is, she's in advanced placement classes and really does have tons of homework that she stays up half the night working on, so getting her chores done is a lower priority. For that reason I've lightened her chore load considerably, but still...
Whether in emulation or it's just a phase, Ponito has become a major liar! He has been lying to my face about doing his chores. Honestly I expect it from Bear and Kitty, and Bob does it to, but the blatancy still shocks me.
Wednesday he was supposed to clean out the tub in the master bath (he and I are the only ones who use it). I asked him if he'd done his chores and he said yes. He's lied before so I went to check and he hadn't. I called him in there and pointed out the evidence in the tub. "Ummm... I only clean around the tub." Not acceptable, but I confirmed that what he was saying was that he did his chore by cleaning the edge of the tub? Head nodding. So I show him evidence that that hadn't been done either. HE STILL TRIED TO SAY HE DID IT!
I told him he was grounded from using my bathroom for a week. (The kids hate the kid bath. It smells and the shower doesn't work. Bear is the only one who uses it, and that's probably only because he's not allowed to use our bathroom (he steals, and we keep the meds in there). Ponito, who is a rare bather anyway, and gets away with it because he hasn't hit puberty yet, started bragging that he just won't take a bath until he goes to Grandma's on Saturday. NOT acceptable. I start threatening. Finally I grounded him. He ran out of the house and disappeared. *sigh*
He did come back, and was told he couldn't leave without permission, and if he wanted to get to go to the lake with Hubby this weekend to scuba he was NOT going about it the right way. Later he told me he'd cleaned the tub, but he LIED again!
Last night, he STILL hadn't cleaned the bath (although he lied yet again about having done so, and he STILL hadn't taken a bath - since Saturday). Luckily Hubby got home from teaching scuba early (usually he gets home way after everyone's bed time) and Hubby made Ponito bathe. It was probably a sink bath, and honestly he may have used my bathroom, but I don't know for sure.
I hate that Ponito appears to be picking up on the older kids' behaviors. I needed one child that wasn't totally draining!
I went over their chores they've checked off for the week and they have all blatantly lied (checked stuff off that wasn't done) on almost EVERY chore. They've all, except Bob (who at least is honest about it), verbally told me that they had done their chores for the day.
So I'm seriously considering trying the Soup Kitchen. I have to discuss it first with Hubby and Grandma, and the kids' therapists.
There's also a major problem with logistics. Soup is expensive. My 3 "Sequoia's" can eat a lot of soup before they get sick of it, and will probably prefer it to the "disgusting" healthy food I cook. If I limit the amount of soup then we trigger their major food issues (assuming this doesn't anyway). Should I only buy soups I approve of (healthy)? Should I let the kids pick the types? Should I have a big variety or just a select few that they'll probably all eat.
Kitty will eat a lot for the novelty of it and then will most likely start opening a can, eat a little, claim to not like it or get a "stomach ache," and leave it out to go bad.... and repeat.
Bear will most likely be happy. Food he doesn't have to rely on me to cook! The other factor is he will continue to do what he does now... beg, mooch or steal junk food at school. He doesn't eat much at home.
Bob and Ponito might get the point quickly. Bob would either be happy because she's such a picky eater or miserable because soup isn't on her list of foods she'll eat.
Despite appearances, most of my kids would rather starve than eat food they don't like. They do this by filling up with junk food whenever they can.