Mom to Mom

growing up with george

by Viki Rife


    I miss George now. But I didn’t always feel that way about him. Almost every Saturday morning when I was growing up, my dad would reach beside his breakfast plate for an imaginary phone and dial it.

   “Hello, George?” he would say as we looked at each other and groaned. “George, I need your advice. I have a job that needs done, and we need about…” (he’d look around the table at his four children), “yes, I think we need about four good workers.” He would wait for a minute, then explain, “You see, George, we need to prune the fruit trees and take the pruned branches to the burn pile. Oh, and we need to rake the leaves in the yard and get them to the burn pile, too.”

   He’d pretend to listen carefully, then say, “Okay, George, so you’re saying we’ll need a ladder, pruning shears, three rakes, and a red wagon? I think we can have those ready.

   “George,” he would add, “How long do you think this project will take? Three hours? Wait, what was that? You think if we can get it done in three hours, we’ll have time to take a picnic supper to the river? Okay, we’ll get right on it.”

   We had our marching orders. Dad climbed up and pruned trees and we older ones gathered the branches. Our youngest brother, only three, brought his red wagon so we could put branches on it. He would then take it to the burn pile and dump the branches. We raked and he carted leaves away, too. Dad would make up silly songs as we worked, and we would all try to contribute ideas for silly lyrics.

   We would watch the clock to make sure we got done at the appointed hour, pushing ourselves if there was danger of not making it. Once done, we would brag to each other, “We showed George we could do it!” We would then gladly pitch in to get sandwiches made so we could head for the river. We had fallen in with a rhythm of work. The sense of accomplishment was rich and fulfilling.

   My parents not only taught us to work hard, they taught us by their example to enjoy our work.  They helped us discover the deep satisfaction that comes from accomplishing a goal. They taught us to rise to a challenge with humor and grace.

   Something amazing happens in children when they realize they are a contributing part of a community. A sense of value, of camaraderie, of well-being and satisfaction gives them purpose and direction. They learn organization and teamwork skills. They develop strategies for dealing with the challenges of life.

   There are parents in our society who want to spare their children from having to carry too much responsibility. Sadly, those children will have difficulty transitioning into the responsibilities of adult life. As moms, we want to give our children opportunities to work, and we want to help them develop ways to enjoy their work and find satisfaction in a job well-done. May I encourage you, as you invest in preparing your children for the future, to ask for God’s wisdom to teach them through personal experiences to work hard and to find ways to enjoy their work? You are doing them a great favor!


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