No one holds me as accountable for anything as my two-year old does for everything.
The other day I was getting Brayden ready to go to school. We took one last trip to the bathroom before heading out the door. As he was doing his business, he commented that I needed to clean the toilet. Oh, really, little man. You can eat food off the floor without flinching but can’t pee into a toilet that is a bit less sparkly than it could be. I laughed at his very high standard of bathroom cleanliness and ushered him to the sink to wash his hands. “Please clean the toilet for me, mommy” he pleaded in that sweet little voice he usually reserves for requesting an extra book at bedtime or five more minutes of hockey before dinner.
“I’ll clean it while you are at school”, I said to appease his concern, as silly and ironic as it seemed. And there it was. An empty promise. In my defense, it was a completely unintentional one. I typically use Brayden-free Friday mornings to do these types of chores because it’s easier to clean toilets and
rinks mop floors while only having to keep the potentially dangerous
cleaning supplies away from ONE toddler. It just so happens that on this
particular Friday, that one toddler took a random morning nap. And this chronically
sleep-deprived mother took one too.
Fast forward a couple of hours and it was time for pick-up. Feeling refreshed from a nap and a shower, I applauded myself for successful time management during the morning. Little did I know, I wasn’t deserving of this self-praise. Because the very first thing my darling Brayden asked when he spotted me at the door to his classroom was, “Mommy! Did you clean the toilet?” While his teachers found this hilarious, I was a bit humiliated. I mean, what would my kid’s excitement over a clean toilet imply of my housekeeping? Of this poor child’s living conditions? Not to mention that fact that I hadn’t actually cleaned the toilet… so I was both a keeper of dirty washrooms AND a liar. Ugh. Mommy fail.
On the ride home, I fessed up that I hadn’t gotten around to cleaning the toilet. Fortunately, Brayden was very forgiving. But the whole situation made me think about how loosely I sometimes say I’m going to do things. How the other day, he’d nearly cried when Tyler ripped a page of one of his books and I’d yet to tape it like I promised. How I’d forgotten to get strawberries elsewhere after we saw they were sold out on our last grocery shop. They are harmless things really. But that’s not the point. The point is that follow-through is so incredibly important. I don’t know that I will forever doom my child to issues with accountability if I fail to do those little things I say that I’ll do now. But, what if? I shuddered to think.
I knew what had to be done. The toilet didn’t really need to be cleaned, but I needed to model follow-through. So that’s what I did when Brayden was napping. And guess what happened later that afternoon when he used the sparkly, fresh bathroom…
Did I see flashes of his future, a future full of follow-through… a seven-year old teaching Tyler to tie his shoes to make good on a promise, a teenager replacing the toilet roll like I made him swear he would, a new father taking his own babies to the park like he said he would? Ok, not really. But I did get a very adorable smile and a gracious “Thank you mommy for cleaning the toilet for me!” And that’s more than I need to keep me doing those little things… taping the ripped page of his favorite book, remembering strawberries at the grocery store, cleaning the bathroom... Because those small, seemingly insignificant things actually matter. To one of the people that matters most.