On Sundays, my husband Eric and I assign chores to our kids. If they get “the minimum” done, they stay in our good graces. If they contribute at a level above the minimum appropriate to their age and maturity, they get an allowance.
Liz, age 16, reliably keeps her eye on the prize — the money — and does everything we ask her to, with no fuss. Susanne, 12, makes it a challenge, but we can generally cajole her through the process. Both girls are “neuro-typical.”
Our ADHD son Clark [age 13 at the time I wrote this post] is another story. Clark has a long history of deferring future pain for current pleasure in the form of omitting the truth, dodging the questions, and flat-out lying. While Clark is a charming boy, this is not a charming quality. We have tried everything we — or our many counselors — could think of, but nothing gets through to him for long.
This Sunday was more of the same. We gave Clark four tasks: clean his room, clean his bathroom including mopping, change the cat box including clean the area around it, and bag and dispose of the (mountains of) dog poo in our backyard. Clark did not have the most pleasurable jobs his week, but we do rotate out “poo” week amongst the kids. As an ADHD kid, obviously Clark has organizational challenges. We expect those and work with him. It’s the challenge with truth that causes all of us the most consternation.
Of the three of the four tasks, Clark
· “didn’t hear me” ask him to mop,
· “forgot” to put the cat litter into the empty cat box,
· “didn’t understand” that cleaning up the cat area meant sweep up cat kibbles in addition to sweeping up cat litter, and
· “thought his room looked great.”
The kicker was the dog poo.
No bag, no poo.
He asked me if poo cleaning had occurred in the back yard. Surprisingly, it had. We asked Clark if he did the poo clean up.
“Yes,” Clark said.
“Where’s the bag of poo?”I asked.
“I put it in the bin.”
“What do you want me to do, dig around in there?”
“Yes.” Big, big wide brown fast-thinking eyes unblinking…
After we confirmed the absence of the poo bag in the bin — although we smelled plenty of other unpleasant stuff in there — the three of us went around the yard and the house looking for the bag.
“Someone took it, Mom.”
“Clark, we have not had a real problem with dumpster diving in our bin, and, if we had, why would they take only the bag of poo? No one steals poo, Clark.”
“Well, what if it is just gone, Mom.”
“Clark, it isn’t just gone, it never existed, did it?”
“Well, I didn’t throw it over into the neighbor’s yard.”
Our heads whipped around.
“What was that? Someone threw poo in the neighbor’s yards? Who? When?” Eric asked.
“It wasn’t me, it was like, last summer, and it wasn’t me.”
This was the end for Mr. Clark. We reminded him of the little boy who cried wolf, and that he had cried wolf one too many times with us. We did not believe there was ever a bag of poo in the bin. Moreover, we were getting out the flashlights and doing a little recon in the neighbors’ yards right that second unless he came clean about the poo.
“Wait, guys, wait. How about we look for the poo bag tomorrow? Maybe it is under a bush or something in the back yard,” Clark pleaded.
The “poo” was getting deeper.
“OK, Clark; find this bag of poo after school tomorrow. But know that first we are going to look in all three neighboring yards in daylight.”
So, some of you know Clark very well. What did we find…poos in the neighbors’ yards? A bag of poo under a bush in our yard? Or a bag of poo in the bin??? Let’s just say it didn’t go well for young Clark.
A lack of focus is one thing, and some of his un-completed chores I could chalk up at least partially to focus. Lying is another thing altogether, and, while a propensity of ADHD, not something we can tolerate. However, we haven’t been able to stop it, either.
Do you battle lies with your neuro-atypical kids? How about your neuro-typical offspring? At what age did they start? Did they get worse with age? What worked to stop them?
Until next time…