My husband and I decided that dinner would be salad with chicken in it. Tony had bought a good salad mix with spinach and all and some good fixings for it like sliced almonds, dried cranberries, raisins etc. We cut up a fresh rotisserie chicken to top it off with.
When Alex realized we were having salad he griped about it because we had salad earlier in the week and he's the one child of mine who doesn't particularly like it. He eats it because our children are expected to eat what we make and he knows it's healthy, but he would rather not. This time, instead of reminding Alex that it is what was going to be for dinner, so that was that, Tony told him if he didn't want the salad he'd have to make himself something on his own then. Alex liked this idea and decided he'd make himself a chicken sandwich with the chicken we had for the salad. Tony sliced some of the chicken thin for him to use.
Because Alex was having a sandwich, Wyatt wanted that instead also, so Alex made 2 chicken sandwiches with lettuce and cheese on them. Watching him struggle a little making them was cute. He got crumbs all over the counter and floor of course, so I informed him that he'd also have to clean the mess he made.
We all had our dinner and when the boys were done, they all wanted a little more to eat. One of them suggested a slice of bread with peanut butter for each. Alexander, feeling like a confident big boy volunteered to make that also. He took out the regular bread and Cameron's special bread and then got the peanut butter and almond butter for Cameron. Since we use all natural peanut butter that has to be mixed Alex started to get a bit frustrated trying to stir and spread it. We told him to keep going. He finally did finish and served it to his brothers who were patiently waiting forever for these slices of bread!
Wyatt, darling Wyatt only took 2 bites and said he was full. Alex immediately became irritated and exclaimed how hard it was for him to deal with the peanut butter and how he couldn't believe Wyatt was going to waste it after he went through all of that work. I swear I could see the light bulb light up above Tony's head and he swiftly used that scenario unfolding before us as a lesson, for all of them, but especially Alex.
Tony said "It upsets you when you work hard making food and someone doesn't want to eat it?" Alex's response was "yes", of course. Tony proceeded to ask him if it would be even more upsetting if he had cooked a whole meal with pans and everything, again Alex said yes. Tony explained that it's upsetting and hurtful to us when we try hard to cook them good meals and they complain about it. Alex didn't say much, but you could see it was making him think.
After the kids were all done with their food I told Alex to go ahead and clean the mess he made. I showed him how to use the attachment wand on the Dyson and overlooked him vacuuming up the crumbs, which took him far. too. long. When that was done, I told him to go ahead and vacuum the carpets while I wiped down the counters and table. It was obvious while he was vacuuming that he didn't want to do it anymore and he was getting physically tired. He told me that it was hard. I smiled and reminded him that I do all of these things every day, typically at least a couple of times a day. He didn't say anything, but I could tell it had him thinking again. The kids are all expected to help with age appropriate chores, but those chores are usually cleaning their playroom, bedrooms, making sure their bathroom stays reasonably clean and putting away their laundry after I have folded and sorted it. Alex is also responsible for feeding the dogs. Other than that, since they are all young, the rest falls mostly on me (my husband does help though). Hmmm, I think it's time to teach a couple of them how to sort their laundry and use the washer and dryer.
Alex came back to me a little bit later and said "You really DO, do a lot of work every day mommy. I already know you do a lot... but, I mean... it's hard." I think this life lesson today may have put some things into perspective for my not really so little anymore, boy.