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Parenting Imperfectly & Mortal Animals

July 31, 2012

A line in a Miranda Lambert song talks of “one of those morning that’s gonna last all day.” Ever have those? Ever have one of those weeks?

Those who have met Connor know he’s a great kid. I’m proud of him beyond measure and I know his mom would be also. He’s had to learn responsibility and the best way of doing that is empower him to be responsible. This has meant chores. He helps run the home, in addition to feeding dogs, watering chickens and rabbits and other chores from time to time as needed. And, partly because he’s a teenager, partly because it’s learning on the go and partly because even when he knows better getting done is a bigger goal than getting it done right.

So he goes out this morning and does, he says, the morning chores. This involves insuring everyone has clean water available, feeding the dogs and insuring everyone survived the night ok, as well as picking up any eggs. Water and egg patrol is done again at noon and in the evening, and in really hot weather water is checked again mid morning and mid afternoon, in addition to later at night.

He’s apt to leave the water on, which he did last night again. A hose runs from the water source out to the hoops. This is what we use for the misting system and with a Y connector we can turn the misters off and he puts his bucket or bottle under the hose and fills the waterers right near the rabbits. However, it’s important to turn the water off at that source after chores, because the pressure builds up and with the cheaper hoses, they won’t last too long if under constant pressure. He’s been of the mind that it doesn’t matter, and after a half dozen warnings I told him over the weekend the next time it was left on, he would be bumped to carrying buckets from the source for a week to remind him how valued that hose is.

Well last night a storm blew up and I went to bring in the two from the ‘grazing pens’ and insure all feed, etc was under cover as it should be. One of the boys brought in needed some water and – yes – the hose was bulging and not turned off. So, for a week the consequences is hauling water by hand. This was something I had to do for another reason – when not properly draining a hose meant it froze, and cattle drink more than rabbits! Lesson learned!

So I do some morning tasks this morning and go to clean out the Cornish hutch that got a little wet last night – I find the brick and covers I put on it last night undisturbed.

This is after he watered twice…they hadn’t been touched. I then found one of his youngsters had died in the nest box and not been removed. Animals die, it’s an unfortunate thing. Sometimes for no visible reason, sometimes accident but it happens. Prompt removal, then, is important…and with two trips to the shed it was still there. I was upset, as it’s been stressed that he look at every animal when he waters. If they’re sleeping *wake them up!* – make sure every animal is moving, healthy etc. He, clearly, didn’t. So on top of hauling water for about 60′ with a bucket, he’s lost his video game, video movies and mp3 player for a week, along with extra activities. It’s that important!

And still, I hate doling out consequences. Even though he knows the consequences, and he knows what is expected and it’s well within his capability to do…we all make mistakes. But we all have consequences. He countered with it wasn’t his fault the rabbit died – and no it wasn’t. It *was* his responsibility though to *check every animal* and remove those that die, and that he didn’t do.

It’s not just about the chores…it’s about teaching lifetime responsibility. And perhaps it’s imperfect lessons, but it’s ones that stick. We both are out there daily to insure if one of us misses something the other doesn’t, but that’s to cover each other not so one can slack off.

I think back to being a teen and facing consequences that weren’t always pleasant. Sometimes we hated it, but we turned out ok. Most of those folks I know did also. Consequences stink – but consequences as a teen aren’t nearly the same as the adult world.

And, imperfect or not, that’s what we’re preparing them to face.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2012 8:30 PM

    Hang in there. It’s a stinky job, but you’re doing the right thing.

    • July 31, 2012 10:48 PM

      Thanks. I know in the long run it’ll pay off but really don’t like having to! I just keep reminding myself someday some girl is going to be thankful – and better treat him right! πŸ˜€

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