caring for others

My dad's grandmother was in charge of washing the family's silverware at age 2. She came from a large family. Everybody had to pull his own weight, even the two-year-old. So her mom put her to work doing something she could do that would be helpful to the whole family: washing silverware.

I can't say I would trust my two- and three-year-olds with washing the dishes just yet. More water ends up on the floor than it does in the sink, and the front of their clothes are usually soaked by the time the first dish is rinsed.

But they absolutely love washing dishes, and it's made me a believer that there's something to the ideal held forth by my ancestors: the acknowledgement that everyone is a part of his family, no matter how much or how little he contributes to it.

So while I wouldn't recommend you eat off the plates my kids clean just yet (unless you actually enjoy crusty chunks of the previous meal stuck to your flatware), I do love to watch them dig into real life tasks: cleaning out measuring cups, sweeping the floor with their mini brooms, and even hanging clothes on the line.

Isn't it interesting how even the littlest members of a family get so much pride out of contributing to it? It's almost like Someone designed us to care for and about one another. Hmm.

The bulk of their day still revolves around all sorts of play, which is exactly what they should be doing as children. But there are also times throughout the day and week that our play takes the form of some real life work: setting the table, running out to get the mail, unpacking the dishwasher, pouring drinks, and moving laundry from the washing machine to the dryer.

I'm thankful for all those little ways in which they help our family function (not to mention how they help the kids be independent and capable adults some day . . . or so I hope because if they can't figure out how to get a stain out of their clothes, they'll have to call their grandma who is basically the queen of OxiClean), and it's such a joy to watch them take ownership and pride in their work . . . even if the clothespins were upside down and the fork ended up on the right side of the plate.

It's a start. In fact, it's the first step in learning that taking care of someone other than themselves matters. And in a time in their lives where they are particularly prone to thinking only of themselves (hello, toddler "No, me!" mentality), that's something. I'd bet my dirty fork on it. 

1 comment:

  1. You are doing a great job of training your children (and, with any luck, a future daughter- or son-in-law of mine). ❤️❤️


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