All I have to say is that I am so grateful for parents who taught me how to work, and to work hard. Ever since I can remember everyone in my family was taught to pitch in and help. Whether it was digging the “Pit of Despair” in the backyard or carrying the neatly folded laundry up the stairs- trying not to vomit at the thought of touching your family members’ underwear, or loading the silverware after dinner.
Yes, the “Pit of Despair” existed, many times. Every single house we have ever lived we have torn apart and re-done the inside, adding on, building decks, adding a bathroom, the works. The “Pit of Despair” had my brothers out in the heat in the middle of July, digging and digging. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to help with that because I was too small and my dad did not trust me with power tools at such a young age. Instead, I was put to work painting the inside of the house, or cleaning up the sawdust and sheet rock.
Through each and every task my parents ever had me do, I learned the importance of not only the task itself, but the attitude in which to proceed with the task. I learned not to think of chores as trivial and mindless, but instead, worthwhile and exciting. My parents were careful in how they worded their request, so as not to make me think of it as torture, but instead as a contribution to the family or a learning experience. My dad would often say, “Hey- let me teach you the best way to load the dishwasher” Or “Hey would you please vacuum? Mom is really busy today and I know it would be much appreciated.” When I saw it as a learning experience or when I knew that it wasn’t necessarily required of me but that it would be helpful if I did it, my attitude towards every chore and task was positive and upbeat.
About seven years ago my dad finally started letting me use the big tools and he let me help with the bigger projects. He would say “Hey, wanna help me build the deck? I’ll teach you how to use the drill.” or “I think it’s time you learn how to use a tile saw, and how to grout tile.” They started me out on smaller tasks and built my way up to bigger and better and slightly more dangerous.
I didn’t truly appreciate this until I got a job of my own. For a summer I worked at a resort as a housekeeper. It was possibly the hardest summer of my life; my manager was completely open about not liking me and I dreaded work everyday. After a few conversations with my dad, it clicked that I was only thinking about “getting the task done” and not at all about doing a quality job and seeing my own progress. I immediately began to apply the things my parents had taught me and the difference was amazing. I enjoyed scrubbing toilets clean, or vacuuming and mopping the floors of 54 cabins a day. I learned the value of a job well done. A few weeks later, my manager pulled me aside and told me how she had noticed a change in me and that I was a “harder worker”. Jokes on her, I had always been a hard worker, but I hadn’t been a happy worker.
My next job had me in a craft store, wearing an apron and making home decor. I loved that job because I considered every day a new learning experience, every single day I got to learn something different. Even after almost two years of working there I had never failed to learn something new.
I think that parents have a lot of power as far as teaching children goes. While they may not think the children are learning anything, they do learn something. Trust me. I think there have been times my parents feel like they failed at being parents, but what they don’t realize is that while every lesson may not stick with me, the things that do are most likely the most important and definitely the most used. From the constant example of my parents I learned not only the valuable skills they taught me whether it was how to clean a bathroom or how to tile the bathroom, but I also learned that attitude and perspective is everything when it comes to the most trivial tasks in life; they don’t become so trivial anymore.