child labor: not all bad

This past weekend, the sun was out, and the kids were inside. Fighting. I opened the door, (gently) pushed them outside, and told them to go play. 

After thirty seconds, more bickering from outside. Then shrieking. The only thing to do in such cases is separate, and so I grabbed the loudest of the three (Seamus).

ME: Shea, I’ve got a really important job I need you to help me with.  
This gets his attention.
SEAMUS: What is it Mommy?
I have no idea. 
ME: The important job….the incredibly important job… that I need you to help me with… is…

I cast a glance at our filthy back door.
ME: I need you to spray some Windex all over these windows. 

I swear, he thought he had won the lottery.

He used almost an entire bottle of Windex on four windowpanes, but I was willing to let that go, because 1) he was so happy he was humming to himself, and 2) he was cheerfully doing a task I had been avoiding for weeks.

A few minutes later, Connor came over (he can sniff inequitable treatment a mile away).

CONNOR: Mom! Why is only Seamus getting to clean?

Why, indeed. I sent Connor out to the front porch with a bucket of Ajax and a brush.  His sister was not far behind.

Here my children were, scrubbing a winter’s worth of grime off our porch chairs, and thrilled to have the privilege. 

Seamus, having finished the back door, came out to check his siblings’ progress. “Dis fwoor is FILFY!” he shouted, and got down on his hands and knees. 

 I would never have considered ordering my children to scrub the porch floor. It was filthy, but I was just planning on living with that. To my surprise, my three kids worked for over an hour to make everything spic and span, and there was not a cross word exchanged the entire time.

Next time they bicker, we’re attacking the basement.