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. 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous May 20, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Isn't it funny what kids want to do when they don't really have to but when the label "chores" comes around, they kick and scream and fight not to do it? I remember begging my dad to let me mow the lawn, now I pray I don't have to. I remember wanting to do dishes, wipe windows cleaning my parents car, now hate doing dishes, DREAD washing windows and cleaning my car SUCKS. I remember it being so much fun cleaning my mom's car. Weird!

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Lisa May 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm

MY PEEPS WERE ALWAYS SO HAPPY WHEN HELPING… I LEARNED TO LET IT GO TOO. YOU CERTAINLY ARE A WONDERFUL MOM.

HUGS FROM MAINE

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Anonymous May 21, 2010 at 3:34 am

My grandmother once got my sister and I to play "Cinderella" in her bathroom. She has pictures of us happily scrubbing floors. My Nana always was devious. I'm sure she was laughing maniacally the whole time.

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Roxane B. Salonen May 21, 2010 at 3:56 am

Amy, you're a genius, I'm telling ya. 🙂 Even if an unintentional one. Great story and photos of your kids working their tails off. It really does feel great to be a productive member of society. If only it were always so easy. Strike one up for you this day, anyway. Woo hoo!

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Sean May 22, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Mama Tom Sawyer.

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Lucy May 23, 2010 at 4:49 am

Send em to my house!

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Jessica May 27, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Brilliant!

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