Do kids still do chores?
I mean, in the age of the iPod, iPad, and “I-don’t-really-have-to-make-my-bed,-do-I?” Are chores a thing of the past? My kids don’t have one of those nifty middle-class-America-family charts on the fridge, to outline which duties each kid is to perform.
Mackenzie clears the table, Cooper takes out the trash, Octavio makes the tortillas.
They can sign up on their own for household tasks – loading/unloading dishwasher, cleaning the cat’s room, folding laundry. But it’s a volunteer program, not prison labor like I envision it when I hear the word chore.
It’s more of a country-club atmosphere than Alcatraz.
Plus, they have to do it if they want their own funds to blow on the clearance-aisle ZuZu pets, plastic lizards in the school store or ring pops for their cousin. They’re paid like third-world factory workers, too.
Life, the Erbes way
The Erbeses lived next door when I grew up in Greeley, Colo.
They were a hardy, Texan family: two boys, two girls, a dog, and a cat. Country music-listenin’, Lord-praisin’, loogie-spittin’. Earl. Judy. All four kids’ names began with R. Plaid shirts, trucker hats, belt buckles.
The took Saturday morning hardware-store trips, in the truck, just because.
I envisioned church revivals and big, country meals being served in the Erbes’ kitchen. The kids couldn’t come out to play football or marbles or throw rocks at things until their chores were done.
I’d never been in their back yard, only saw it between the slats on the fence, but I imagined hard labor being done there. Chickens fed, wood chopped, rocks broken, hogs slaughtered. With a snort and a wipe of the brow.
Man, that would suck.
In my cush world, I had to remember to clean up the kitchen after making a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of Kool-aid while I watched Bonanza. Saturday was cleaning day in the Pacheco house. Windows open, Donna Summer on the radio, dust flying.
Dad’s tale of hard labor
I knew just where the Pledge and Windex were, and I knew enough to know those wooden shelves on my waterbed weren’t going to dust themselves.
I couldn’t expect to do anything with friends until MY chores were done. Seriously? That’s the hard-labor story I’ll tell my kids when explaining the benefits of grunt, manual labor being part of a child’s character development?
Gee dad – I can see how being made to change your own sheets EVERY WEEK gave you the discipline you need to, um, sit on press row for an entire football game, eat food, and bang out a game story. It’s like you were in the military, or something.
Did no one notice I had to carry firewood once a year from the bed of my dad’s truck to the backyard, or that I had to crush aluminum cans with the remnants of a broken car axle just to get the $13 a full barrel of cans would fetch back in those days?
I was practically a lumberjack.
Who am I kidding? I bet the Erbes kids saw me through the fence, while they shared a single ladle of water from a small bucket between rock-breakin’ and hog-slaughterin’, and plotted how they’d someday all four just kick my ass.
I just hope I remembered to take off my apron if I’d been dusting that morning.