Sunday, June 9, 2013

Caution: Sharp Learning Curve Ahead...

So, the children were told that their job this morning was to go out in the back yard and pick up sticks in anticipation of the great mowening. My folks have a couple older maples that enjoy dropping random blade-breakers at random intervals, and it's always a good idea to clear the area immediately before mowing. We recently acquired a new mower, a "Zero Turn" Toro:

It takes a little getting used to in navigation, but it's a treat to not have to swing wide around corners. This one also has a bagger, which increases the time needed to mow, but decreases the overall time needed for lawn maintenance, as there's no raking afterwards.

The problem, though, is that with the new mower - especially the bagger - sticks are the enemy. Hence, the children were dispatched to pick up "ALL" the sticks. I ran the push mower around the edges yesterday, and noticed a rather large number of fallen sticks around the two big trees in my folks' back yard. They were sent out with the admonition to pick up "all the sticks", and - as kids are wont to do - were back in the house inside of eight seconds.

Um, no.

I sent them both back out, and five minutes later Baby Girl G. comes in. A minute or so later, her brother waltzes in behind her.

"Did you pick up the sticks around the big tree?"

"Um. I wasn't in charge of that. [Baby Girl G.] was."

"I didn't put someone in charge of areas. I just want the sticks picked up. Go. Do."

Much grumbling and muttering ensued, and I expect that there will be quite a bit of sticks I'll have to stop and pick up - which means that next time, TheBoy is going to learn how to run the pushmower. He's 12, right on the edge of being able to take over lawn care duties - and if it wasn't for a friend in elementary school who lost three toes to a lawnmower when we were in sixth grade, I'd already have him doing it.

One of the milestones, one that seems to be increasingly lost, is helping out around the house. With more and more kids getting everything they ever ask for from their folks, there's little incentive to go out and work for money - we've run into this with sitters. Finding someone to watch the kids was a chore - because no one seemed willing to actually work for money. It's been the same story with my father in law and finding someone to shovel his walk - there's just no one out there willing to do it.

It's a sad reflection on our society; one that can be seen in the increasing dependence on welfare as well. Why bother with manual labor when you can collect a check from the government for the same amount? Why put yourself out, when getting a handout is so much easier? You can see the beginnings of the entitlement mentality - but they're kids, it's expected. It surprises and saddens me that so many parents are willing to foster this mindset, though - when I was growing up, if I wanted money, Dad would point to the yards in the neighborhood and tell me to ask the neighbors if they wanted their lawns mowed.

To say nothing of learning the value of a dollar - I've seen TheBoy's friends think nothing of dropping their iPods or leaving their electronics-laden backpacks unattended. Why should they care if their iPod gets broken or their Playstation Vita gets stolen? Mom and Dad will just buy a new one. I've seen this same mindset creeping in with my kids, and let them know in no uncertain terms that if something they own gets broken, lost, or stolen because of their carelessness, they don't get any mulligans. You wait until Christmas or your birthday for a replacement, and it will be the only gift you get.

I think they're getting it. TheBoy has has an iPod touch for a couple years now - and the screen is still intact. BabyGirl G. has lost countless chargers, but her iPod Nano still works and is in the same place every time. They're getting the point that Mom and Dad are not just ATM machines, and that if they really want something outside of a birthday or Christmas present, they need to earn it, either by busting their butts around the house or earning good grades in school. Yes, we bribe for "A"s. Don't judge. :)

Besides, I've already told the kids that I agree with Homer: "When you're 18, you're out the door!"...

That is all.


Old NFO said...

It's the same everywhere, last three years NO kids in the neighborhood wanted to shovel snow... Or do anything else that required actual WORK...

dagamore said...

Good on ya, I know growing up i had to earn my ammo(normally mowing the lawn), gas(normally washing my Dads truck and Moms car). I know it helped me when i got a real job latter in life.

Chris said...

Jay - bravo!

NFO - no kids in my neighborhood shovel, mow, or any-damn-thing else, as far as I can tell.

My daughter is now 23, and working at two part-time jobs. She didn't work when she was older, but given that she was usually flush with cash from family and friends (being a pretty, well-behaved and well-spoken child works wonders), we would ask her to go halfsies on anything optional she wanted. It also focused her mind on whether she actually wanted said luxury item. It's made her fairly smart with her money.

Robb Allen said...

Needed new gutters as the plastic POS's that had adorned our roof had deteriorated into non functioning eyesores.

Sent out 4 requests to companies for estimates.

2 responded.

Only one actually showed up.

We have had this issue time and time again with practically every home improvement task. Everyone advertises, nobody shows.

Our garage door buckled in the middle and wouldn't open, so again we sent out 6 or 7 requests and only 2 people showed up (the ones who 'repaired' the door for us until they could get the parts in were the ones who won the contract. It's the little things!).

We see this attitude in the computer programming industry all the time. Kids straight out of college are wanting $90k a year and good luck getting them to show up on time, much less do a worthwhile job.

Wandering Neurons said...

"18 and out the door" works well. It's mean, but I can vouch for it. Like birds out of the nest, they must learn to fly. Our 18 year old daughter didn't want to do anything, so she was served with eviction papers. She left, found out later she was pregnant. She's surviving with her boyfriend, but appreciates the lesson. We taught her much, she didn't realize how much till she had to depend on it.

pediem said...

Last summer, I attempted to hire a kid in the neighborhood to keep my yard weed-free. She showed up...twice, I think. I pulled a lot of weeds myself.

This year, I was talking the woman who cleans my house. She was telling me about her two kids (16 and 15yo). They were both looking for summer jobs because they want to earn spending money for all of the fun they have planned. The older one is life-guarding at some of the pools around here, but the younger one was having trouble find a job, given his age.

I told her that if he was interested in yard work, I could probably keep him fairly busy all summer, and that I'd pay well. Two weeks later, he's already put in more work that that ditsy girl last summer, both in terms of hours and in work accomplished. I'm going to have to work to keep him busy!

It's nice to find a pair of kids with some motivation and energy.

Hafnhaf said...

Don't pick up the clippings. Let them decay back into the lawn. Best thing we ever did for ours. Same with the small sticks and pinecones. Btw, ztr John Deere here. Great machine!

Anonymous said...

When I was 14 we moved from an apartment to a house. We were still unpacking when I was told to get in the car, whence we went to Sears. In the hardware dept I was given 15 minutes to pick out the mower I wanted. "I wanted?" I asked. "I'm buying it, you own it, the lawn is your responsibility, and so is the mower. It better stay running or you'll be cutting the grass with scissors."

When I wanted some money - not "extra" money, just "money" - I received the suggestion to walk around the block and see how many of the houses had lawns....

When there were no lawns to cut in the winter, the Resident Curmudgeon recommended leaf raking and snow shoveling; for the snow stuff he suggested shoveling a walk for free the first time it snowed and leaving a note on the front door offering to do it for a reasonable sum the next time it snowed. I was surprised how well that worked.

Anonymous said...

Back in April there was an article about something or another, and the author mentioned in passing that her 6 year old daughter made her own breakfast if necessary (parents busy, woke up before Mom and Dad, that sort of thing). The commentariat were amazed that 1) a 6-year-old could do such a thing and 2) that her parents allowed her to fix her own breakfast. Note, this was on a NYC-centric website, but Ye Gads and Little Fishes!


Anonymous said...

I spend three or four days a year loading hay for a farmer. She can't keep anyone under the age of 50 working on her place for more than a few days.


Anonymous said...

I am just writing an Eagle Scout recommendation for the boy across the street. He will often work with me in the yard. I had to move my whole garden last year before construction. We moved my stone raised beds, and ~2 yards of soil I had spent 5 years building up. This summer, post construction, he has helped me with re-grading the back, including moving some very large stones into place to "stair-step" the slope. I pay him $10/hour, but we are doing very heavy work. So, they are out there -- just very hard to find.

Mrs. Yankee-fried

David said...

I had a friend in high school who's parents as we neared graduation kept asking him if he had a plan for after high school. He never really replied. Graduation night, we all went to the grad-night party. We left around 4 AM, drove over to his house and found all his stuff - sitting out on the front porch. When he tried his key in the front door lock - it didn't work. While standing there being shocked and confused his Dad opened the door and asked him "Do you have a plan yet?" He finally recovered enough to tell his Dad that he had enlisted in the army last week, but at their request wouldn't report to boot camp until August. His Dad smiled and said "Well about damned time. Why didn't you tell me that earlier and saved me the trouble of moving all this crap. Now get the rest of your lazy-assed friends out of the car and have them put all your stuff back in your room."

David said...

They say there is no such thing as a stupid question... I diagree. When I was 11 I was watching my Dad prep the lawn mower for the new spring when I asked him "So how does the lawn mower work? Dad decided if I was old enough to be curious about it I was old enough to use it. Dad didn't touch our mower for 12 years - when I finally graduated college and moved out of the state.