Teaching responsibility at 11

After a long day at an amusement park, the last thing you want to think about is getting up for work the next day. And like any adult who arrives home at 11:30 p.m., my son recognized how tired he was.

“We’ll just see how I feel in the morning. If I get up before 8, I’ll go to cross country practice. If I don’t, then I’ll just go on Tuesday.”

Hmm. You see, his dad still had to get up and go to work that morning. And he didn’t get to sleep in the van on the way home. And his mom worked the whole way home, and still had to get up at 6 a.m. with the dog and she, too, had to work on Monday, even though she is her own boss.

It wasn’t a “we will see how I am feeling.” Or “we will see if I get up.” It was, we will do what we committed to do because it is the right thing to do.

So, I told him that he’d get up the next morning and he would go to cross country practice.

When I came into his room at 7 a.m., (which, by the way is 7 hours of sleep, plus the two he got on the way home) he whined a bit. “Whyyyyyyy?!” he said.

“Because you committed to a sport,” I said. “Because you have a scheduled practice that is not optional,” I said. “Because life doesn’t stop just because you participated in something fun yesterday,” I said.

And he went to practice. And after practice, he got in the car, smelling as gross as an 11-year old boy who just ran should smell. And the rest of the day, he was fine. He didn’t fuss about being tired. He wasn’t grumpy. He was actually quite responsible and pleasant to be around. 

And he learned that he could stretch himself a little bit.

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I may do it all, but I have not done it all.

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