Okay. Okay. Don’t get your panties in a twist. I am not an advocate of slave labor, in the true sense of the term. I do not believe that any human being should be bought or sold to any other human being. Nor do I believe that “the boss” should make the working conditions so horrible that it is impossible for a human to live in any other way than in squalor.
What I am referring to is a much more humane practice: Childhood Slave Labor in my household alone.
You see, I have three very entitled daughters. They basically want-for-not and worry very little. When they express interest in an activity, I find a way to enroll them in a class, sign them up for a club team, or get them into a camp. Their curiosities are often satisfied, and in many ways, I am proud that I have this ability to offer my children life-experiences.
However, what I am not proud of, and what I have not been strong about insisting upon is enlisting their help in the day-to-day activities of running a household. They are very neglectful of chores., and I am somewhat of a lenient mom who allows for this behavior.
Some mothers believe that children will not neglect responsibility around the home if they are given an allowance. These mothers boast that it gives their children a sense of empowerment: a $5.00 payment every Saturday morning, a pat on the head, and a “Job well done.”
I tried giving an allowance to my girls at a few different points in the last five years; however, for me, it turned into the handing over of money for mediocre help that I still felt I was nagging to get. In addition, I struggle with the idea that I should pay the kids for helping around the house. We are a family, and as a family, we should all want to pitch in to make our house, our world, clean and manageable.
So, what happens if I do not give allowance and I get insufficient help?
I do the lion’s share of the work.
I pick up. I wash. I fold. I hang. I vacuum. I dust.
However, certain weeks when I have extra work at the job that I do get paid for, I come home exhausted, and I find the house…. well, trashed.
I think to myself, I did not sign up for this. I cannot do it all. And whether I am actually doing it all or not, I feel like I am, and this feeling makes me lose it.
Literally. I freak out.
I find that I am standing in the kitchen barking orders like a drill sergeant. I am not your slave! I work hard, for what? Ungrateful kids who cannot lift their princess fingers to help!
Magically, things start happening, and they happen fast. Laundry not only makes it into hampers and baskets, it makes it to the laundry room. The living room carpet and the basement floor get vacuumed. The Tupperware cupboard gets organized, and the sink gets cleaned. In the matter of an hour, the bedlam that was my home has been tidied. The nervous sensation in my stomach has been quelled.
So how does any of this relate to slave labor in my home?
Well, this past Friday, I came home from work and Carson was on-line looking at a Fault in Our Stars sweater that she was coveting. She explained how her friend told her about this website, and how cool it would be to own this particular sweater. She said it with a bit of resign in her voice. For whatever reason, she hasn’t landed many babysitting jobs lately, and her coffers have dwindled. She is very aware of how much money I spend on her dance classes, costumes, shoes, and competition fees, so she does not like to ask for a luxury item for the sake of said item.
However, while listening, I thought of a plan that could work to my advantage.
“Carson,” I said. “I can buy that for you, but then, you will be my slave. You will have to do whatever I ask without complaint.”
“Really?” Without hesitation, she clicked the order button and started to enter her name, our address, etc.
Since Friday, she has dusted and vacuumed the rec room, put away two baskets of laundry, and shoveled the driveway. We did not discuss a timeline. At some point, we will come to an agreement that her services rendered is equivalent to the cost of the sweater. However, when that happens, there will be something else to order.
I cannot wait for Maggie and Lizzie to catch on. I may never have to lift a finger again!