I sat in Laylee’s parent/teacher conference this year discussing her progress with Ms. DaBomb, when her teacher mentioned that the main area Laylee really needs to improve on is cleanliness and organization. I could feel my face redden as she described the clutter in Laylee’s desk and backpack, the chaos with which she frequently completes her tasks.
As I listened my mind flashed to my work area at home. I thought of how unscheduled my time is and how rarely the house is truly clean and pleasant lately. I’ve been hiding behind the excuse of adding a third kid but honestly I’ve been on a steady decline in organization and cleanliness for the past few years. Essentially I was being told that the one thing keeping Laylee from being fully successful at school was the same one thing keeping me from being fully successful at life. Was it catching?
Over the next week I became sort of obsessed, wondering what other bad habits I was passing on to my kids. I rationally know that kids come with their own personalities and that who they are is a combination of both nature and nurture but I started thinking of every annoying or destructive habit they have as being a direct result of something I had or had not done.
I cataloged every deficiency in my character and personality and then watched for signs that the kids were being affected by them. It was not a fun week.
As time went on, I chilled out a bit, recognizing that although I’m a big influence in their lives, I am not the sole determining factor in who Laylee, Magoo and Wanda will become. Then I developed a plan to get our family organized. It involves routines, a giant whiteboard planner and a nightly family board meeting to schedule the following day.
So far, with school out of session and very little on the schedule to organize, we’re managing to get everything done and the house looks decent too. The best part is that I’m teaching while I organize instead of taking everything on myself.
Being a better role model for my kids is at the top of my list of goals for the coming year. Sure they won’t always be exactly like me but I can’t pick and choose which of my traits they’ll learn so I’d better try to be the best example I can be. Modeling. I need to be better at it.
On a positive note, the kids were playing pirates with some friends last week when their ship uncovered a massive pile of pirate coins and jewelry. The captain commanded the other pirates to gather the treasure and Laylee suggested, “I know. Let’s put it in savings so we can afford to buy a bigger nicer ship someday.”
No one could argue with her logic and by Blackbeard’s ghost, that motley crew sailed into the sunset towards a debt-free life of financial security.
So while I may have inadvertently taught her how to shove a bunch of junk in her school desk and forget to turn in assignments on time, I’ve also taught her that you can save up for things you really care about rather than spending every dime as soon as you make it.
I’ll just keep plugging away and hopefully by the end of 2011 I’ll find that I’m a better role model than I was the year before.