The thing is... at this point in their lives, our kids do kind of think we're the best thing around (I include Aunties, Mimi's, PopPops, Grandma's and Nono's in this idolization as well). And because they think we're the best, they assume that whatever it is that we're doing is the best thing to be doing as well. If I'm mopping, so are they. Dusting? I need to prepare 4 cloths. It's sort of spectacular, though I wish I would have capitalized on this idea more in the past... like dressed the kids in rags and encouraged them to body sweep the floor, but how wonderful that they find joy in this simple task that has become so monotonous and humdrum for the adults in the world.
The girls have been really into wiping and dusting. They wipe down the door handles, and "polish" the spindles on the stairs. They wash their bench at the table, and scrub the finger prints off the glass door almost as fast as they make new ones. In all the weeks that they've helped me "clean" something, I've never heard a squabble, never heard a complaint or a whine. There really is something to what their great-great grandma Sallie used to say: "busy hands are happy hands". Just take a look at these happy contented faces.
The boys even got in on the action today, as they helped me clean the mess that occurs daily as a result of the bird nest that is perched in our laundry exhaust vent. (I've got to give it to those birds... they are dedicated - rebuilding on a daily basis what our dryer shoots out onto the table.) The boys have taken to collecting the pieces of straw, fuzz, and grass and tossing them over the side of the deck. This is ingenious, really, because the boys love nothing more then to toss things over the edge of the deck, but here they can do it AND be super helpful at the same time! Just as amazing as the girls - more so really, given the boys propensity to freak out - their morning cleaning ritual occurs in relative peace. There's more than enough mess to go around.
Seeing my four children like this makes me think of the benefits of living a simple life... no TV, no video games, no electronic toys, living off the land and all that jazz.. just some good 'old fashioned elbow grease and a love of family. It is something I need to keep in mind as everyone grows. I'm not an outright proponent of chores for "money", but I sure as shooting am a fan of chores because "you live here and we feed you and put this roof over your head" (thanks mom and dad for that phrase... I see that one being put in constant rotation in a few years). The trick - if it's at all possible - is to instill this same sense of joy and satisfaction that they get from being in the vicinity of family and doing a job together that they display now. How do we keep that as they grow and keep chores from being - well - a chore, and instead something we do out of love to help the family that we love to bits and pieces? I'll let you know if I come across an answer for that.