Working with Children

We had some work done on the house recently and the men who did it are Amish.  Well, two men and a boy.  The boy was about twelve years old and he worked as hard as the men.  If he was sent to get something from the other side of the house, he went and got it and returned promptly without being distracted by butterflies or shiny objects.  I asked the men privately how they had taught the boy to work so well and they answered, “Teach them to work.”

Well, duh.   But how?  I got to thinking that the Amish are able to disciple their children so well because the men do not usually trudge off to a job everyday that has nothing to do with the rest of their lives.  Their work is part and parcel of everyday life, as are their children.  And their kids learn by watching and doing alongside of the adults.

What I like most about our new chore system  is not that the chores get done faster or better or that I get to sit around eating bon bons.  It’s not even that the kids are learning valuable skills and responsibility.  It’s that it is so much more friendly with two, and three, and four.  Working together with people you like is so much better than working alone, even if the work takes longer.  Gotta keep things in the right order.  It seems I’ve been told this a time or two, but it’s beginning to sink in:  Instructing the children is not a distraction from my real work, it IS my real work. 

When I learn a lesson, I really need to be beaten over the head with it.  Over the past few weeks, this theme has been repeated again and again.  On at least one of those occasions, my husband got to learn it with me.

old school

old school

Yesterday I stopped to chat with my husband who was beginning to apply primer to our house.  He took a look at the hedge clippers under my arm and sighed, “What are we going to do about [insert son’s name here]?  I asked him to go cut  some brush with those clippers.”

I asked, ready to go into discipline mode, “And he said no?”

“Well, actually he said he’d rather do it with me.”

And there it is.

So, we got the kids to clean up whatever mess they were making and put on old clothes and they began learning to paint a house.


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