Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Responsibility is hard on a 10 year old

on October 18, 2010

My husband and I have always tried to teach our children responsibility. To be responsible for their things, their actions, just your basic overall life skills.  My sweet boy got a hard lesson in it yesterday.

Last year toward the end of the school year, my son’s class was learning about 3 different animals: fiddler crabs, millipedes and some kind of frog. At the end of the lesson, the children were allowed to keep a creature of their choice, with parental permission of course! My boy wanted a millipede. they are unobtrusive little critters that would be kept in a closed habitat, so why not? I’ll let him learn about caring for a pet. Not only did he get one, but he got two and he was thrilled! I got him a container that was big enough for them and told him that they were his. He was responsible for their care and feeding, not me. I have enough to do with the care and feeding of the humans in our family!

He did really well with them this summer. They are low maintenance bugs and only need to be fed about once a week. At the beginning of the school year I would remind him about once a week to feed them and he did it. A few weeks ago,I told him that he should write himself a reminder on his calendar because I felt he’s old enough that I shouldn’t have to tell him every time.

I knew he hadn’t fed them and asked him last week if he had. No he told me. Last night I asked him if he had fed them. No, again. So now it’s been two weeks since these creatures have been fed. That’s a long time for an insect to go without food or water. At bed time when he decided he needed to feed them, he found one of them had died. He was very upset and distraught. It was so hard to see him that way. We tried to remind him that we didn’t know how old they were, but that also, this is the thing that happens when we forget to take care of our pets. I told him that we could bury it in a flower bed today and it will become part of our flowers and that helped a little.

 It’s so hard to step back and allow your kids to fail, but that is what we need to do as they grow. That is the only way they will learn responsibility, is by actually experiencing it, it’s not something that’s easily taught. He will learn that his actions, or lack of, affect others and in a potentially negative way. If I were to take over and feed his pets, he would think that I would always do that and he didn’t need to worry about it because mom will always take up the slack.  I’m sorry if I sound like a hard-nose mom, I’m definitely not. I’m trying to help my children learn the skills they will need when they move on in their lives and I”m not there to pick up the pieces.  I love that child more than anything and to see him that way was heart wrenching, but I really feel like he’s going to learn one of those lessons that we all have to get the hard way. I’m just glad that the stakes werent’ higher. I’d rather him learn it thru losing a millipede than doing something completely irresponsible and ending up in jail, or wrecking a car, or something else much more devastating.

Now, it’s time for me to go and hug him and tell him how much I love him.

5 responses to “Responsibility is hard on a 10 year old

  1. Poor kids learning about death at an early age. I guess it is good in a way. Therefore, you can talk to him about life and beyond if he is curious.
    You made me smile at the end when you said, “Now, it’s time for me to go and hug him and tell him how much I love him”.

  2. I know, it’s tough, at least it was only a millipede and not our dog, that would be really hard. We’ve talked to him about heaven and all of our family members who have passed away. I’m not sure about millipedes, do they have those in heaven? I bet millipede heaven has no birds, frogs, or other predators and plenty of fallen leaves and all that good stuff they like to eat! 😀

    I know you don’t have children yet, but when you do and you have to see them go through something and you really can’t do anything for them, it’s really difficult. You’ll get it when you get there! It’s probably not a whole lot different than watching someone you love go through cancer treatment or childbirth. You want to do something to make things better, but you just can’t. All you can do is let them know you care, and sometimes that’s all they need.

  3. Funny you mention childbirth and cancer. I have a friend who is pregnant, one friend who cancer came back to hunt her, and one who cancer came by to say hello. The pregnant one is fine. The development of the baby will be a happy journey for her. But for my friends who have cancer my heart goes out to them. All I could say was that and that I will pray for them. Wish I could do more but as you mention “all you can do is let them know you care.”

  4. It is so hard when someone you care about is in that situation. I’m sure your friends are happy to know you are there for them. I hope all goes well for them. That cancer is a wicked beast.

  5. Thank you…I do so well. It is like everyone and there dog is having cancer. I had a neighbor once that both husband,wife, and their 2 dogs had cancer. That was the day I found out that animals can get cancer too and that everyone has the cancer cell just waiting to go bad.

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