Sunday, December 16, 2012
At breakfast this morning, I announced that it was "donation day." I gave everyone a large trash bag and told them their only goal for the day was to fill the bag with toys and clothes to be donated. It was interesting to watch how the rest of the day progressed under the influence of such different personalities. Weston finished his breakfast and immediately made a bee-line for his room, bag in hand. He got a quick start on filling the bag, and then kind of stalled out. But when I told him he couldn't play outside until the bag was filled, he managed to complete the task in a relatively short time. Ruth lingered at the table and leisurely made her way to her room. She then proceeded to empty every drawer, bin, box and closet and spread her possessions out in the middle of the floor. She slowly filled her bag, while simultaneously playing with and admiring everything she owns and picking out some items that she wanted to wrap up to give to loved ones as Christmas gifts. That distraction seemed to bring the bag filling to a screeching halt, when the bag was only half full. While the gift giving was generous and thoughtful and sort of in line with what we were trying to accomplish, I insisted that she stick to the original goal of filling the bag. She was not happy to continue this work, but she did do it. Max refused to get up from the breakfast table. He just sat there. For-Ev-Er. And then, when I finally forced him to get up, he bawled and squalled and declared he wasn't going to give any of his things away. His bag sat empty on his bedroom floor for the better part of the day, while he alternately sat on his bed or on the floor just staring at it. If Jeff or I checked in with him, he began the bawling again. He finally found it in himself to put one item in the bag. When told that wasn't going to cut it, he went into hysterics once more. There were bribes, threats, appeals to compassion and competition, and leading by example. And finally, at the end of the day, when my vision for this project was wearing thin, I declared I would just do it myself, leaving him no choice in which toys would be donated. (In fact, I had been secretly slipping things into the bag while his back was turned). This, and the fact that he finally decided he was ready to go outside and jump on the trampoline, motivated him to add a few more things to the bag, filling it to an acceptable level. It was so amusing to see all the different personalities at work (or not at work, as the case may be).