How We're Teaching Our Boys to Work

Dear Boys,

I want you to know that I'm making this parenting thing up as I go along.  I really have no idea what I'm doing.  I'm pretty clueless, actually.  After all, you didn't come with a manual--though sometimes I really wish you did!  However, I know I want to give you my very best.  I love you more than anything on earth and want to give you the childhood you deserve.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you will turn into responsible and kind adults despite my many mistakes. 

One of the characteristics that I admire most about your dad is that he is self-motivated and a hard worker.  He grew up on a dairy farm; it was a natural place for him to learn work and responsibility.  But we've chosen to live in a neighborhood.  You dad and I have talked at length about how to instill a good work ethic in you boys.  We've come up with a few ideas.  I'm sure they'll change and evolve as time goes on, but so far, I like what I'm seeing!

First, I made a chore chart.  Your old one fell off the wall and broke.  But no matter, it was time for an update anyway.  You've grown up quite a bit and are ready for some new tasks!  I hot glued magnets to the backs of wide popsicle sticks.  On the sticks are written various chores: make your bed, practice the ukulele, scrub the toilet, feed the dog, clean your bedroom, etc.  I change them up every day.  Each chore is worth either ten or fifteen cents.  When you're done, you bring the stick from your board back to me in exchange for some money.  I'm excited that this immediate reward system seems to be working!

But there's a catch.  I also added some "chores" that have no monetary value--do something nice, play with Conrad--because I think there are some responsibilities that should just be done out of the goodness of your heart.  And that's where yesterday's trip to the South Hills came in.

Your dad went for a mountain bike ride on Saturday.  There were big fallen trees across the trail in three different places.  So, he gathered you boys, a rake, and his new chain saw and headed back into the hills the next day to clean up the trail.  He saw a need and filled it.  The trail wasn't going to clean itself and I'm not sure the forest service would have gotten around to it this summer.  Sure, cleaning the trail benefited your dad, but it also benefited many other riders too.

You guys enthusiastically hopped right in to work!  We put you on "stick duty" or "rake duty" and you diligently rid the trail of any obnoxious sticks and rocks.  You also learned an important lesson about what stinging nettle looks like!  Luckily, no one but Dad got stung.  I am so proud of you, Jed and Levi.  You walked two miles.  You slaved during the heat of the day.  And you never complained.  In fact, work was fun!  I could tell you genuinely enjoyed seeing the progress you had made on the trail.

I hope we're able to do work like this many more times, making it old hat by the time you're ready for a "real" job.  You'll blow your boss away with what you're capable of doing.

I love you, boys!  You make me so proud.

Love Always,


 ^^Following Dad down the new single track trail.^^
 ^^Conrad's first ride in the backpack!^^
 ^^All three boys watching in awe as Dad cut the fallen trees with the chain saw.^^
 ^^Throwing big sticks off the trail.^^
 ^^This kid.  Such a cutie.^^
 ^^Just happy to be along for the ride!^^
         ^^Even Tyke came along.  Poor dog is starting to show his age.^^
 ^^Any marker on a tree along the trail is a "power up" to give the boys energy and run faster.  See the yellow ribbons?^^
 ^^Notice all the sticks they collected in the backpack?  Haha.^^
 ^^Too much fresh air.^^
^^Goodbye South Hills!  I love these rear view mirror pictures.^^

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