This morning my daughter Maggie was at my side by 6:30 a.m. Usually she climbs into bed next to me for a few glorious minutes of snuggling. But no such moss would gather on my preschooler this morning.
“Mommy!” she stage whispered in my ear. “Guess what my job at school is today?”
(As of last week, every preschooler in Maggie’s class had a JOB, on the JOB CHART, and this was big news. Someone would be “line leader.” Someone else, “line ender.” Someone else, “weather reporter.” You know, all the heavy duty stuff.)
“Are you… door holder?” I asked, rubbing my eyes.
“No!” she answered, beaming. “I’m Teacher’s Helper!”
Teacher’s Helper, as Maggie’s teacher explained to all the parents on Back-to-School Night, was a new job for this school year. “We used to have ‘Day Off’ on the job chart,” she explained, “but whoever had a day off was always devastated. So this year we’ve added ‘Teacher’s Helper,’ and we’ll find something or other for that person to do.”
But while Teacher’s Helper started out as an afterhought, it has apparently been quite easy for the teacher to kept the designee quite busy. While Maggie was beyond excited to wear the Teacher’s Helper mantle for the day, she was also a little stressed about what lay before her. “Daddy is going to work,” she explained, watching him shave, “and I, am also going to work today, I will be doing a lot of jobs.” She chose her outfit accordingly (sneakers and leggings, very movement-friendly), as opposed to the usual high-tea ensembles she usually prefers. She broke into a run as soon as we reached the end of the school hallway, hurrying in to her class, not wanting to miss a moment of glue-stick-rearranging or chair-pushing-in-after-snack-time that awaited her.
Compare this, if you will, to the boneless flopping around all my children do whenever I suggest a task, such as taking a bath, putting a glass in the dishwasher, or picking up their own coats off the floor. “Oh my GOD!” Connor cries, unable to bear the workload another moment. “Why can’t everyone just leave me ALONE!” Maggie hasn’t gotten that histrionic yet, but she does have the eye-roll mastered quite well for someone who cannot yet write her name. And Seamus just ignores me entirely, which seems to be working quite well for him, actually.
I have recently seen the wondrous effects of list-posting on my children’s cooperativeness. I’m thinking it’s time to up the ante and create a Job Chart. Here are a few rotations I’m considering:
- Shoe Liner-Upper (the bench in our hallway has about 10 pairs per person)
and, not at all as an afterthought,
- Mommy’s Little Helper,
who will just follow me around and do whatever I say.
Any chance this will work half as well as when a pretty preschool teacher suggests it?