Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Trash Talk

I have been sick.  Some nasty stomach virus.  Yesterday I stayed on the sofa all day.  Television did not interest me.  I tried to watch a movie, but could not focus.  I have some really intense books on my reading list right now, and yesterday was not the day to try and focus on those.  I did some praying.  It was quiet in my house and the fireplace was on.  I have a novel that I have been wanting to read for awhile but have been quite busy.  I brought it downstairs and read most of the day between cat naps and sips of ginger ale.

One of the story lines in the novel is dealing with one sibling in a family of four children.  The children live in very meager conditions and work very hard.  Very hard.  The responsibilities that they take on are more rigorous than most adults are used to today.  I got to thinking about this a lot yesterday.  It is amazing how much thinking I was able to do while I was on the sofa.  I realized it has been a long time since I have been able to sit in the quiet and have time to really let my mind wander.  Most of the time my mind is running.  In the middle of the night Monday night I woke my husband up to tell him that I was not going to be able to go to work and needed to go through "the plan" that would have to take place.  There were many details that needed tending to and he would have to pinch hit for me.  I had already run through this plan in my mind as I tossed and turned.  At this point it was very important that I go over the plan with him.  It was about 3:30 in the morning and he was sweet enough to listen to me go through the many details that I needed to unload off my mind in order to attempt to rest.

As I rested on the sofa by the fire, my mind was able to wander.  My thoughts were able to stop and linger awhile in places before moving on.  It had been so long since I was able to allow my mind to take a leisure stroll and enjoy the places I discovered and ponder on those that bothered me.  We live in a very noisy world.  Rarely do we get alone and quiet.

One of the places where I chose to linger was on this idea of hard, honest work.  Those who came before us lived simple, yet difficult lives.  The difficulties were in their struggles and physical labors.  What we consider normal, they would never have seen in their lifetimes----running water, heating and cooling systems, gas stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, cell phones, etc...  We have always required our children to do chores around our house.  There are many chores that children younger than mine were required to do on farms and in their homes that people today would consider harsh.  They didn't work all day, but they were expected to do their share and learn responsibility.  The children and adults also walked miles to places they needed to go.  Children were sent to school and would walk two miles to school and two miles home.....even in heavy rain or snow.  

My children have told me that some of their friends don't have chores.  Now I realize that most likely this is not true, yet there may be some who don't.  When I look around at the floors at school and the trash that gets thrown on the ground without a second thought it makes we wonder.  We all go through times where our children are not so pleasant in their responses.  Sassiness and disrespect is found in all of us.  The very thought that being asked to do a little work brings an immediate reaction of irritation shows us how sinful we are.

The students at my school have been asked to do some chores recently.  The lunchroom has been quite messy after lunch.  Trash isn't making it to the trash can.  The hallways have been less than tidy with items that would make you throw your hands out with huge question marks in each.   Why would one put an orange on the floor of the hallway, stomp on it to see how flat they can make it....and then just leave it there.....for someone else to clean up?  Some people laugh and say...."Oh, that is just kids for you."   I beg to differ.  On any given day I can look up and down the hallway and see things that never make it to the trash can.  Instead, they are just thrown on the ground...because "someone" will pick it up.  "Someone" who gets paid to do that.  A friend recently told me that some of the students are not happy with having to wipe down tables after lunch and pick up trash.  One of the kids said that there are adults who get paid to do that and the students shouldn't have to.  Where did this attitude and thinking come from?  Are we really teaching our students that it is another person's job to pick up their trash?  Sure, we have paid personnel who clean and maintain our facilities.  We have teachers and assistants who are paid to look after the kids and supervise them for their safety and well being.  But to pick up the trash that they deliberately threw on the ground or left on the table?  Somewhere we as parents are missing the mark.  We often complain and gripe about the things left out and not put away, the dishes that never made it to the sink, the clothes that never made it to the hamper...and then we pick them up and do it ourselves to save time...all the while grumbling and complaining.  We could take this one step further and say that often we teach our children to clean up after themselves.  The message that they are learning is to clean up only what mess they know is theirs and leave the rest....after all...they didn't make it.  I am guilty of this, too.  If we are honest, we all are.

When I was in middle school, I remember being assigned a table at lunch.  I was even assigned a seat at that table.  We were to eat quietly and wait for our turn to take and clean our trays or throw away our trash.  We then returned to our assigned table and seat and could talk quietly for the remainder of the lunch period.  We did not go outside.  We stayed inside the lunchroom and waited for the bell.  Then the assigned student would wipe the table down.  I remember taking our trays to the lunchroom ladies and being sent back to the trash bins because we did not scrape them clean enough before turning them in to be washed.

So back to the idea of hard work.  The idea of learning what it takes to maintain a home needs to be learned by our children at an early age.  Respect and positive attitudes will spill over into school and other places without us even trying.....if we do it right at home.  It all starts in the home.
Let's get out our chore lists and evaluate whether or not they are sufficient.  Saturday can't get here fast enough.   Hmmmm......why wait until Saturday?

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