Monday, June 25, 2012

This isn't too much to ask

I am often befuddled (yes, befuddled) by my daughter's unwillingness to step out of her comfort zone to do something new -- something that a soon-to-be independent adult should be able to do. For example, she'll have a question about where something is in the store. "Ask that employee," I'll suggest obviously. "What do I say?" she'll ask.

I was inspired by the most excellent book Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement to give her a little errand to do. "Errands" was one of the activities that the author Kay Wills Wyma subjected her 14, 12, 10, and 8 year old children during her plan to teach her children to work. As we were driving (after taking her friend home, I might add if I was keeping score), I told her that when we got to the Redbox, I wanted her to return the movie (the movie that she and her friend watched the night before) .  "I don't know how," she replied. "You'll figure it out," I said.

She gave me a look as she was getting out of the car ("I don't know why you can't just do this yourself," the look said). She meandered up to the box. Someone had already scrolled through every movie in Kiosk A and had moved over to Kiosk B, and someone was heading up to Kiosk A. "Hurry," I thought, not wanting her to get caught behind another slow browser.

Amanda beat her to the kiosk, but she looked determined, so Amanda hung back. But then she started looking at her phone, and hadn't stepped all the way up to the machine, so I unrolled the window and yelled, "Can my daughter just return our movie?"  The look that earned me was probably not as G-rated as the first look.

She looked as clueless as a Kindergartner given Calculus instead of a coloring sheet.

She lifted the sun flap, stared at it, looked at me, then stepped back again and let cell-phone lady go ahead of her.

The woman didn't realize that I was empowering my teenager, that I was breaking her habit of entitlement, so when she finished, she pressed "return a DVD" for Amanda before she walked away and said, "It's all set. Just put it in."

Seriously. The first time I used redbox, I had to read the instructions. It's not rocket science. It's not calculus. She's a computer-savvy kid from a tech generation. She can figure out a DVD kiosk. But she's never had to before, so like most people who like being taken care of, she feigns helplessness.

Attempt one at teaching her errands probably didn't work very well. Just wait until I send her into the grocery store with some cash and a list of a few items. We might need to go on high blood pressure medicine, but it's gonna happen.


I highly, highly recommend this book, Cleaning House. You can enter to win a copy over at 5 Minutes for Mom today.


Owlhaven said...

Funny-- someone very well intentioned 'rescued' one of my kids from a similar learning situation. I bit my tongue and was polite, since I knew their motives were kind. But sometimes folks don't realize that I'm trying to raise kids to become ADULTS, not kids-in-larger-bodies. Ah well.. I'm not giving up!

Mary, momma to 10, 3 of whom have actually BECOME functioning adults.

Robin McCormack said...

I need this book. My son is clueless when it comes to buying anything.

Stephanie said...

We live out of the country so I just faced my first Redbox a few weeks ago. As I was busy reading instructions for returning the disc an impatient 10-year-old came up behind me and pushed all the right buttons. I *could* have done it myself, but I'm already an adult with plenty of other responsibilities. Thank you, kid!

robert duran said...

It’s really funny, sometimes we should admit the fact that we have to be teach by our kids on how to use certain gadget or machine like this best kiosk machine solutions because they are more knowledgeable about it, yet instructions are easy to follow and a user friendly one, so by next time you use it ,you already know what to do

morninglight mama said...

You know, I remember not wanting to call for pizza or return a video (when all you had to do was walk into the store and hand it to someone) because I was SO afraid of embarrassment if I did something wrong. Good for you encouraging her to figure it out-- our kids need to hear that message more!

Livia said...

I love using Redbox! It is so convenient and cheap. My family began using the machine approx. four years ago and we loved it ever since. I must admit - it's cheaper than Blockbuster which went outta business. Anytime we want to see a movie, we go to Redbox or the cinema, it's so easy to decide. I agree Redbox is tempting to try every time you pass it and then, we finally tried it and I'm glad that we did :)

Fonda said...

I ordered this book as soon as I read your blog post. It came in while we were on vacation...but I started it as soon as I opened the box. Our oldest three are married and out on their own...but the last two...I don't know what we have done differently, but man do I need this book! Wish me luck as I try to reprogram a 17 year old high school senior and his 21 year old brother who has returned home for his last year of college.