It’s 6:30. The baby has taken a late nap (on me, of course) so I’m just now getting to dinner. Aron called earlier to say he’d be home at 6:30. He’s not home.
I’m working on making tacos. Eva is pissy (mirroring her Pissy Pregnant mother perhaps?) and wants to be held, wants a drink, wants to be fed. I take care of all this. Joel asks if he can help. I consider doing the usual: asking him to feed the baby applesauce so I can make dinner without her 30 pounds on my hip. Every time I put her down, she squawks.
Instead I tell him, “Thank you for offering, but no. YOU didn’t make this baby, your dad and I did. It’s OUR responsibility to take care of her.”
Joel says, “But she’s my sister.”
I say, “Yes, and you help a lot with her, and I appreciate it all. You carry her down the stairs when she wants to be with you guys. You play with her so I can make meals. You entertain her in the van. You are a great brother and will make a great dad. I’ll always need your help around the house and with the kids, but it’s not your responsibility to care for the other kids.
When I ask you to babysit them when you are older, I will always pay you. I never want you to feel like their 2nd father. Just be a kid. And if I forget and slip into making you do too much (like after the new baby comes), remind me of what I just said. I’ve known too many women who wouldn’t let their oldest kid go do anything because the oldest kid was ‘too much help to [the mom]’. I think that’s wrong. My opinion is that people should not have kids if they can’t care for them themselves.”
So I didn’t have time to make dinner very well, but I could darn sure stop to give a soliloquy to my son with the baby on my hip.
Edited on 4/18/09 to post comment response:
Eva ... we will just have to disagree on this one. As an only child I was given an allowance and had many responsibilities, and as the kids take on more responsibilities around the house, I give them allowance so they'll know how money works in the world. You work = you get paid. Too many people don't get that concept! They certainly won't make big bucks to babysit, and mowing is gonna be part of their chores/allowance. I do agree kids are given too little responsbility these days, though. BUT I don't want my kids NOT wanting kids because they had to parent their sibs. When I babysat for families around the neighborhood, I got paid. That's why I think my kids should get paid to watch their siblings ... even a couple of bucks. I just think too many parents abuse the "help" of their older kids and end up only seeing those older kids as "the help." I've seen it too much, and it makes me sad.