I can barely believe that August is just around the corner. I can almost feel school breathing down my neck…. eek! Have I mentioned how much I love summer. That I just might live for summer. Okay, “living” for it might be a tad dramatic… but summer is so wonderful and carefree and wonderful and carpool-free and wonderful and – okay enough.
Why does my family adore June, July & August? Beyond the no-school thing, we tend to have a no-schedule thing, too. Sure we might do a camp here and there. But on the whole, we do our best to steer clear of activities … especially those requiring transportation. Carpool during the school year is enough for me. I sure don’t want to relive it in the summer.
That said, the kids have still embraced their work efforts – a few really stretching themselves. It dawned on me the other day (when I was convincing myself they weren’t biting off more than they could chew) that pushing the boundary can be a lot like endurance training.
In sports, athletes employ endurance training to increase stamina, speed and, well, endurance. It is an effective conditioning tool for athletes. According to Wikepedia (hey, I like the source!) “(a) well condition athlete can be defined as, the athlete who executes his or her technique consistently and effectively with the least effort.” We may not be talking sports here, but wouldn’t it be nice to produce “well conditioned” workers from our homes.
The kids had a couple conditioning opportunities this summer.
For one of the girls, it was babysitting for a family while they were on vacation – the beach, no less. A house on the beach, private room, waves right outside the window for a wonderful family… Sounds dreamy. She even got to include a friend. Oh, but did I mention four kids three and under? Yeah – lots of diapers, sunscreen, floaties, feedings, sand, tired kids … and a week away from home for a kid who doesn’t like camp or being away from home. It wasn’t an easy gig, but it sure was terrific. I’ve known the family for years and trusted them completely. They piled on the work while providing sufficient down time and let these young ladies lean into some good, hard meaningful work. They both came back exhausted and infused with confidence. Sure makes what seemed like hard work (chores around our house, local babysitting jobs, summer reading) a lot lighter. Just like endurance training makes a multiple-mile run seem easier.
On the other spectrum, a young boy jumped on some friends yard-mowing needs. The job was a mother’s dream. From the handshake agreement between young worker and Yard Owner to
the clear written set of instructions, and expectations of excellence that were set. (Kids thrive on high expectations.)
Trust and responsibility came with the garage door opener. “This is for you,” Yard Owner said to Young Worker. “This is your opener that gives you access to our garage.”
Young Worker soaked it all in. For your mom to believe in you is one thing. But for a non-relative to trust a kid with access to his property – now that’s responsibility. And Young Worker swelled with confidence as Yard Owner introduced the boy to his lawn mower, gas can, brooms and such. It was beautiful. Who knew the stretch that lie ahead?!
I didn’t realize how little the kid was until he stood next to the machine. It took every ounce of his determined little bod to navigate that mower around and up & down the yard.
His sister walked a dog
while he mowed (hey… killed 2 jobs with one stone)
He learned that the job meant more than just mowing. It included picking up sticks before you mow in order to care for the machine.
He learned that mowing includes sweeping up stray blades of grass.
He learned that doing a job means doing it well. Even if you have to go back and mow the spots you missed. Which he did. More than once. But it looked great by the end.
I didn’t do it for him. But I did stand at a distance to help with things (like the gas can) legitimately outside of his zone. Hmmm…. I guess that’s part of the training, also. It has been fun to watch him get better and faster each time he has mowed the yard. To bad it’s getting hotter each time, too (107 his last go!)
One of the most important lessons he learned he couldn’t see. It is one of the major reasons we parents need to make sure our kids are learning things like yard and house work. He learned how to do a task that he just might have thought needed to be done by an outside service.
I had a friend tell me recently that one of the main reasons her husband has her son care for the yard “is that he doesn’t want him leaving the house thinking that he will need to pay for something that he is more than capable to do himself. What if the kid doesn’t have enough money to pay for luxuries like a maid or yardman? Am I teaching him that outsourcing is the norm?”
So here’s a major MOAT shout-out to Yard Owner for stepping out and hiring a little kid to mow the yard … and to Wonderful Family for safely getting my girl out of her comfort zone and stretching her muscles. You guys rock!
It has been a summer of some good endurance training. Unlike sports, the race isn’t a few weeks away. It might take years to see the increased stamina and endurance. But I can already see fortified attitudes. It is truly amazing, the confidence/independence infusing attributes of good solid work that come pouring in after a job well done. As usual, who knew?!
Thanks for walking the road with me.