Last night, tired of Julian's excuses and complaints for not setting the table (it's his week, lord help me), I told a fabricated story about work, that went something like this: Me and my coworker Carol both needed some papers from John to get our jobs done: "But John didn't finish in time. When our boss asked me and Carol if our work was ready, I said, 'No, because John didn't give me his papers.' But you know what Carol said? She said --" I gave them a cliffhanger pause "-- YES." I tried to let the power of that one word hang and gave them a knowing face.
"But how?" Julian asked. I answered, "Because found what she needed anyway, and she got the job done. *I* just told the boss that it wasn't my fault and gave him a bunch of excuses and reasons. But Carol got her job done." More pauses. Then, brainstorm: "And you know what? The boss KNOWS John didn't do his work! And he knows that Carol got her job done even though John didn't help her! John got in trouble, I got nothing -- but Carol got a gold star."
I was trying to teach a lesson about taking responsibility, like getting the table set even though someone is "distracting" you (Julian's best excuse, he's not even very creative). Still, I felt like I was engaging in one of these "magazine moments" -- parenting advice touted by adults, but is lost on kids. Julian seemed to take this in for a few minutes, before the borderline bathroom talk started up again. There's only so much poop-free talk two little boys can take.
Driving home tonight, Julian asked me if "John" bothered me at work today. I said no, but a computer program did (it's true, the newest version of MS Word froze on me at least 5 times today). Then, when we got home and entered the kitchen, Julian said something so miraculous I thought I'd just entered a parallel world: "I'm going to set the table RIGHT NOW so that I get the JOB DONE no matter what!!" And he did. Straight out of a magazine! Even if it never happens again, I'm encouraged.