Friday, May 12, 2006

Forget Summer Camp - How About A Little Child Labor?

OK, sorry, WTM's. I have been on a little hiatus for the last couple of weeks, it seems. Good thing the Queen has been there for you. Loved the blog about overscheduling our kids in the summer. I, too, wish we could get back to the time when we played with the Roly Poly's, turned fireflies into "rings" (eeeooww!), played kick the can in six uninterupted yards (no fences) until it was so dark we could no longer see well enough to play and had to wash our feet before we could get into our own beds in the evening (God forbid we took a bath - that's what the pool was for the very next morning - ha!). But that's not all. My childhood experience may have been a little different that yours. My mother was a golfer. I mean a really incredible golfer. After my brothers went off to college, my sister and I would often wake up to the note on the kitchen table from Mom. My friends couldn't believe it was for real until I showed them one. The note went something like her beautiful scrolling cursive, of course...

Girly-Q's (or "Cindy-rella's", or "Sweetiepies" - you get the picture...),

I'm at the links. Please plan to do the following while I'm gone...

  • Weed the hedge (don't forget to crawl behind the fitzers, too)
  • Wash windows for one hour (vacuum the tracks!)
  • Polish silver for one hour

Chicken salad in fridge for lunch.

Have fun! See you after about 3 pm.

Love, Mother

Now, my mom wasn't one of those who had two or three martinis after her round of golf (which MANY of the ladies did). In fact, she was such a serious golfer, she might even practice on the range after playing 18 holes. Then, she'd buzz into the store and pick up some hamburger to grill for dinner and maybe grab some corn on the cob to go with it. Add some buns, the iceberg lettuce salad with Dorothy Lynch dressing and some strawberries over vanilla ice cream for dessert, and that was dinner - at least twice a week.

So, back to the note. Yes, we really did get notes like that ALL THE TIME! And yes, we really did have to do those things. And yes, we did survive. We grumbled here and there. But you know what? I know an awful lot of women who can't wash their own windows to save their lives. And when they try to, they look like crap. My mother's standards were grueling, to put it generously. SO - we knew the silver had better be gleaming. And man, was there a lot of it. They gave silver as prizes in golf tournaments all the time, and she won a gazillion of them!

Now, don't think I had this horrible mother. She didn't make us do ALL the work. She was like the Energizer Bunny, whirling through the house, getting things done. She could fix a toilet, work on the electrical and mow the lawn - all in the same day. And she still had time for her cocktail on the patio before dinner. But I'm waxing poetic here...In any case, we got to go to the pool and play tennis and stuff like that, too. We just had to "contribute". So, I'm here to tell you that not only do we NOT need to overschedule our kids in the summers, a little hard labor won't kill them, either. I'm not kidding. It will make them better people. I have a family member who has told me she thinks they were too easy on their kids - didn't make them do enough.

Bag that. Make them help with the housework. Teach them to run the washer (and work on making a dent in Mt. Washmore...). Teach them that when they tell you they're bored, you will most certainly find something for them to do! They may not like it. They may complain. But you'll be raising better people for it. Sure, there'll still be plenty of time for lemonade stands, chasing butterflies, feeding the ducks at the pond, riding bikes all over the place. And they'll appreciate those things more, too. And let's get our kids OFF the Playstation and computer and OUTSIDE - especially while it's still pleasant and not a freakin' steam bath!

So, yeah, forget about signing up Jack and Jill for all the hottest classes. But don't forget the life lessons that can be learned at home thru a little child labor. And then, they'll better enjoy the time for jumping on the tramp, finding turtles in the pond, searching for arrowheads at Uncle Ned's farm, and staying up so late they think they deserve a medal. Those are the things they'll remember forever. Am I right?


Blogger Jenny said...


We used to write our names on the sidewalk with lightning bug butts. I never got up enough nerve to make a ring on my finger.

5/12/2006 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Kathy B said...

Oh Tacky Princess - what a wonderful reminder! I'm sure the Muffia will have their domestic help doing the windows, but after work today, I think I'll teach the kids just how to get those panes gleaming!

5/12/2006 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said!
There is a very narrow window of opportunity in our lives to learn essential skills, and it occurs during our childhood. Too many kids are missing out! I am the only woman I know (lots of Muffia 'round here) who knows how to properly iron a blouse, scrub a floor by hand, and sew! No sane child will choose to do these things, but I thank my mom all the time (even to her face) for MAKING ME to these horrible chores when I was growing up and summer is a great time hone the skills!

5/12/2006 1:52 PM  
Blogger Kristie said...

right on!

5/13/2006 6:24 PM  
Anonymous j-yo said...

Awesome post! My sliding glass door looks like crap every summer due to all the sunscreened fingerprints of my little darlings and noseprints from the dog. This summer I will assign my darlings to clean that d*mn door once a week AND vaccum out its filty tracks. Then they can put old socks on their hands and help scrub the wall trim near the floor. I don't know why I had forgotten that kids can actually do chores during the summer. Thanks.

5/14/2006 8:55 PM  
Blogger tacky princess said...

J-Yo - Ooh, and have you tried those new glass wipes? They work like a charm! They make even the worst window cleaner look like a pro! Great for a beginner kid! Good luck1!

5/14/2006 10:27 PM  

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