Every Saturday when I was growing up, my brothers and I would have to wash the family cars. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, my brothers and I would be out washing the cars on Saturday morning. It wasn't as though we were washing Lamborghinis, my dad, an engineer by trade, doesn't believe in buying "depreciating assets". Our cars were always American made and nothing fancy. I hated washing the car, loathed the chore, and still vividly remember having chilled, purple fingers that tingled when I washed the car in the winter months. (We lived in Southern California, so no need to cue the violins, I had a pretty posh childhood.) While I am a big fan of giving kids regular chores, as soon as I moved out, I vowed to never wash a car again.
I really have no idea what I am doing when it comes to raising my children. Truth be told,
sometimes most of the time, I'm just guessing at what the right thing is to do. I'm trying really hard to raise good and humble citizens with a work ethic. In today's world of instant gratification, this is not an easy task.
Somewhere along the line, I got the idea if my kids aren't going to be responsible for washing the cars, they had to at least put in the time by sitting at the car wash. So, they come with me and we sit and watch the car get washed. Over the years, it has became a tradition to walk across the street and get Slurpees while we wait.
Last week we waited until AK got home from dance to go, because it was "important everyone put in their time at the car wash." While we sat waiting for our car to be done, Mr. Boy asked me, "Mom, why did we wait all day to bring AK with us to the car wash? Why didn't we just go while she was at dance? Why does everyone have to go to the car wash?"
I stammered.... because I wanted to say, "This was my chore when I was little, and you have to at least put in the time we would have spent." But then I realized, my thinking was not quite right. What was I really teaching my kids? "Hey Kids, your job is to sit and watch someone else do a chore you could easily do!" or "Hey Kids, when you grow up pay someone else to do the things you don't like to do!"
Truth is, once I thought about it, I really didn't know what lesson I was trying to teach or if there was actually a lesson to teach. So, I made something up, because that is what I do best.
"Mr. Boy, when I was little I hated washing the car, we had to do it every Saturday instead of watching cartoons. It made my fingers numb in the winter, and since I was the youngest, my pesky older brothers always sprayed me with water. If I wasn't careful, they would dump a bucket of water on my head. So, I got good grades, stayed away from drugs, went to college, and have a successful career. All my hard work has paid of because instead of doing something I hate, I can afford to use a service to do it. The best part of all this, I get to drink Slurpees and hang out with two of my favorite human beings."
That seemed to satisfy Mr. Boy until he asked, "Mom, if I pay the car wash man $5 will he dump a bucket of water on your head?"