February 28th, 2012 at 12:26pm Under Family
Today I would like to share with you a wonderful article by Armi Rowe, a family-centric aspiring author who shares her enthusiasm and inspiration for a life that strives to be productive in work but also values the role of play. Her goal is to reconnect the generations through stories. Armi has shared her inspirational words with us before and I am pleased to have her share her journey of raising responsible children in both work and family life in the article below. Enjoy!
Little Hands Make Fun Work
Do you remember how old you were when you first physically felt the effects of real work? I couldn’t wait to get my working papers when I turned fourteen. I woke up that morning, excited to open my presents from Mom and Dad. I blew my candles. Later that day, I was on a train to Brooklyn to fill out an application from the Department of Labor. I was finally old enough to earn my own income. Even if I knew that part time hours at minimum wage would only amount to enough money for the movies, I felt enormous pride that day.
I was following in the footsteps of my older brother, who had at that point already worked as a restaurant busboy, pizza delivery boy and McDonald’s cashier. Money was tight for our immigrant family, so it was important for us to develop our own streams of pocket money.
I also remember talking at length with my father about the value of having strong typewriting skills. This is how he paved a career for himself in government accounting in the Philippines. He typed and entered data at tremendous speed, with pinpoint accuracy. He inspired me to start learning how to type on my own at nine-years-old. I set a newspaper article beside my typewriter and typed what I read, fumbling around the keyboard. As a result, my semester in junior high school typing class went very smoothly. I was quickly placed on many short-term clerical assignments during my college summers. And that helped me to fill in my resume and gather recommendations.
My oldest is now twelve years old; my youngest is eight. I worry about their generation not having the same kind of impetus and appreciation for work. It is important to me that they understand where all their stuff comes from; that everything is paid for through hard work, whether the work is done through a complex corporate job or through the physical and emotional labor required in running a household and nurturing a family.
One day, I found myself asking my kids a rhetorical question.
“Everyone in this family has a job,” I said. “Do you know what your job is?”
“Going to school and doing my homework?” said my oldest.
“Putting away my toys?” said my youngest.
I was very happy to see that they were able to discern on their own that they had responsibilities as members of our household. Over time, they understood the important role they played in the family each time they set or cleared a table or took the dog out for a little play in the yard. But they could contribute more.
On New Year’s Day, we made it a family mission to organize the garage. It seems that every six months we need to purge family clutter as our busy lives sometimes prevent us from putting things where they belong. Enough was enough. We wanted to start the new year with clear minds and unblocked paths. It worked wonders for all of us. Every time we opened the garage door, it was so satisfying to see everything in its place. What I found even more moving about this simple family activity was that we were together all day, evaluating whether or not we still needed something, whether it could be recycled or donated and more importantly, that their little hands made a difference.
Today my youngest accompanied me to work a pancake fundraiser at her school. Weeks ago, when I read on a school flyer that they were still in need of volunteers, I thought this might be a good opportunity for me to teach her about volunteer work. When I reminded her last night that we needed to be up early to report at 7:30 a.m., she responded with groans and moans.
“But remember, you committed to this. Your school is counting on our help,” I said. “There’s a lot to do to run a pancake fundraiser and if you don’t go, they’ll be short one person.”
“But I didn’t know it was going to be so early!” she whined.
She was dressed and on time, ready to work, but not thrilled about it. In the car we had a chat.
“Do you know what the word volunteer means?” I said to her.
“Yeah, it means you work for free.”
“You’re right. But it also means other things. You are giving your time and energy.”
“To help people!” She finished my sentenced, beginning to perk up.
“Yes, today’s pancake fundraiser will raise money to pay for after-school programs and enrichment activities at your school.”
“Like basketball, Spanish club and Spirit Days?”
When we arrived at the school, she was pleasantly surprised to see one of her classmates and recognized other fellow students and their siblings who were also there to work. These were children of parents who were regular volunteers at school functions. It was a natural extension of what they do as involved families. While I poured batter and flipped pancakes and chatted with other volunteer parents, I caught a glimpse of her having fun while she worked. I heard her busily shuffling around the cafeteria and hallways with her young co-workers, wiping down tables as families finished their pancake breakfasts to prep for new families. I watched her laugh and smile as she inspected the little red buckets of candies that served as treat bowls and table centerpieces, ready to refill them. At the end, she helped put away decorations that were hanging on the wall and on the tables.
“Mom, when are we going home?” she finally said to me, dragging her feet and looking utterly exhausted. Her smiles and energy had been depleted. Her body now understood the true meaning of work.
“Welcome to volunteer work!” I said to her, embracing her as a matriculated member of our volunteer team.
This brought back some warmth to her face. As other parents helping with clean-up also commended her on a job well done, her spark came back. She, too, beamed with pride in the spirit of hard work.
Armi S. Rowe
Family Enthusiast who chooses an inspired life…
Rock-N-Rowe, LLC Media
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