I think parents put too high of expectations upon their children.
It's bad enough that we demand them to learn all their colors and shapes before the age of three, but to insist that they actually play with the toys that we buy for them is going over the top. How could we possibly expect such an unrealistic burden?
The other day I got fed up. I couldn't remember the color of Roman's carpet (which is pretty bad considering he has the same carpet as the rest of the house) and I was plum out of creative ideas for cleaning manipulation. My sister-in-law told me an idea about hiding all of the toys if they didn't pick them up. Brilliant. So, I set the trap by asking him to clean his room. And waited.
Sure enough! Four hours later, the clutter still waited to be uncluttered. I sent him outside to play and dashed in to clean his room (ironically it only took me fifteen minutes) organized the toys by like and lugged five full totes in the dark basement. And waited again.
Roman came in and right away noticed his clean room. He excitedly thanked me for it, then slow realization dawned like a flying squirrel that jumped a foot shy of his landing.
"Mom, where are my toys?"
"Well, Roman, because you wouldn't pick them up I had to. So now they are mine."
Cue flowing tears and ensuing anger.
"How do I get them back?!?!"
"Well, you have to earn them back. Here is a basket of laundry you can put away."
Even though the whole point of the plan was to motivate him to work, I was still surprised when he immediately started folding clothes without complaining. My plan had worked!!!
Over the next few days, however, his motivation to earn his toys back decreased as he soon found new toys to play with. I was flabbergasted as his room slowly started becoming messier and messier, but this time with things like the five bags of Sleeping Beauty pullups that I had bought for him (I was actually kinda grateful that he was getting some use out of them). A handful of my kitchen utensils. Cardboard boxes. I couldn't believe it. My plan had backfired. Why should he bother working for real toys when he had an abundance of laundry baskets and shoelaces to play with? In fact, it has been a good two weeks, and he hasn't even asked about his beloved dinosaurs still waiting in the dark basement waiting to be saved.
I think they will be waiting a long time. I guess in the mean time, I am back to the drawing board.
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