A single working Mom called me a few months ago, in tears. It seemed her teen-aged son had a different opinion about helping her. Through her tears she said, "I ask him to take out the trash, it's still sitting there when I return from work. His dirty dishes are all over the house." She continued for about half an hour. When she finally stopped venting, she said, "will you talk to him?"
Hmmmm. Why does she think he'll listen to me? But thought I'd give it a try.
I asked him to tell me the things his Mom does for him. He cocked his head, and thought a moment. Kept thinking, and finally said, "I can't think of anything she really does just for me."
So I began my list. "Does she do your laundry, cook for you, drive you where you need to go?"
"Well, yeah, but those are things she wants to do."
"Now tell me the things you do to help your Mom."
He leaned back, scratched his head. "I pick up the bag of trash she leaves in the kitchen and put it in the trash can."
Me, "Do you take it to the road?"
Him, "No, she likes to do that when she leaves for work. Besides I don't know the day they come to pick it up."
Me, "What about dishes? Do you at least load the dishwasher?"
Him, "no, I take my dishes out and sit them on the counter when she asks me to. I don't do dishes. I'm not touching plates that have someone else food on them. That's nasty and disgusting."
Me. "What about laundry? Do you put your clothes in the hamper?"
Him, "when she tells me she's doing laundry. Sometimes I put my clothes away when she folds them and leaves them on the bed."
I think I'm understanding the Mom's frustration.
Me, "Tell me what you want to do when you graduate from high school?"
Him, "I'm joining the Marines."
Me, "I need to give you some advice. I want you to remember what I'm saying."
He scooted to the edge of the seat.
"When you enlist, I want you to give them a list of the things you don't like to do. No dishes, don't clean toilets, no laundry."
I nodded my head.
Him, "Who do I give the list to?"
Me, "Ask for the person in charge. They will make sure the list gets into the right hands. And by the way, Good luck my friend.
He left smiling.