Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chore Day: Cleaning is Secondary to the Life Lessons Learned

The boys had a great time at Liam Brinkruff's birthday party.

My Dad tells a story from his childhood.  He said his Mother (my Grandmother) made him pick up sticks in the yard and then place those sticks at one side of the lawn.  When the sticks were all in a pile, my Grandmother instructed him to carry the same sticks to the other side of the yard.

As my Grandmother is no longer with us, I can't ask her why exactly she required my father to move sticks all over creation, but I certainly have my theories.  Perhaps, she wanted my Father to burn off a little energy.  Maybe, she hoped to instill the value of hard work.  Or, conceivably, she wanted to teach my Father the benefit of contributing to the family.  Whatever the case, I'm sure she had her reasons...good reasons.  I also imagine that my Father didn't quite understand or appreciate those reasons as a child.

I thought about the stick story today as my boys were performing their weekly "Chores for Champs" (our catchphrase).  For the last several months, I compiled a list of chores they can perform during the weekend.  Keep in mind, my expectations are low.  They certainly aren't repainting a deck, patching walls, or putting on a home addition.  I merely require them to empty a few trashcans, spray bathroom mirrors, and other basic household tasks.

At first, they groaned and moaned about the chores.  They acted like I was inflicting the most terrible, awful child abuse.  After a while, they succumbed to the fact the chores were here to stay, like it or not.

I always know when it's chore day.  The boys operate on one cleaning principal: use two parts cleaner to one part work.  The one thing the boys love about cleaning is the sprayers.   On chore day, the stench of household cleaners engulf the house.  They blanket Windex on mirrors and flood sinks with 409.  I cough and sputter as the fumes radiate up my nostrils and gag my throat.

After a generous application of cleaner, I watch each boy take a quick swipe of the rag (barely flicking a wrist) to the exposed dirty surface, leaving behind a trail of untouched cleaner and caked on grime.

My husband gets frustrated.  He things the point of chore day is to get the house clean.  I differ.  To me, the cleaning is secondary to the life lessons learned.  I implemented chore day for the same reason my Grandmother forced my Father to move sticks around the lawn.  I'm teaching them the value of hard work, pitching in around the house, and helping the family (with the side benefit of burning off a little energy).  In the process, if they learn how to properly mop a floor or clean a window, well, that's icing on the cake!

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