A discussion about whether children should be expected to complete set chores is always peppered with a variety of viewpoints.
I don’t remember having set chores when I was growing up, but there was always the expectation that we kids (ten of us) would do a bit to help out. Some of the tasks included sweeping, doing the dishes, hanging out or bringing in the washing, going to the shops for items such as bread and milk, selling the produce from Dad’s vegetable garden around the neighbourhood or looking after the younger siblings.
Some of the chores were more enjoyable than others and, I must admit, I was often chore-deaf when I was reading a book, which was most of the time. I must also admit that I didn’t always complete the chores to Mum’s satisfaction, particularly sweeping. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t seem to sweep up all the dirt. She would often say that I had given it a ‘lick and a promise’. I probably thought, but never aloud (hopefully), that maybe if she wanted it done well, then she should perhaps do it herself.
I must also admit that some things never change. I am still not fond of housework and would rather be reading or writing than sweeping (or vacuuming and mopping) anytime, and often as I complete (I use this word lightly) these chores, I am reminded of Mum’s words. Next time, I think. Next time.
This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about chores. It doesn’t have to be a western ranch chore; it can be any routine task. Go where the prompt leads!
I, of course, have gone with the lick and a promise of a BOTS (fiction based on a true story). However, before I share my story, I’d like to share with you another post I recently read that has some relevance to the topic.
In his post Extrinsic Rewards Reduce Intrinsic Motivation: Using Psychology to Pick Up More Followers, Jim Borden discussed the suggestion that inferior work is submitted when extrinsic rewards such as stars, grades, payment or other rewards are given.
Jim wondered (not really seriously) if we should ‘pay’ children to not do the things they don’t like doing; for example (if I’ve understood him correctly), I could have been paid to not sweep. Because, if I was being paid to not sweep, my dislike of not sweeping would increase. If the payment was gradually reduced, then removed altogether, perhaps I would so much want to sweep (the opposite of what I was being paid for) I wouldn’t be able to help myself. Since I wasn’t ever paid to sweep (at home – there was no pocket money), I am unable to even consider the difference it may have made. (You might want to read Jim’s post to untangle my faulty thinking from his.)
I’m not sure it would work, but if anyone wanted to pay me to not do housework to test this theory, I’d certainly be willing to give it a try.
Anyway, here’s my story, in memory of my Mum whose words continue to influence my thinking if not my actions.
A Lick and A Promise
Lisa dropped her bag, discarded her shoes, and darted down the hall.
“Where are you off to, miss?” called her mother.
“You’ve got chores first.”
“Did them this morning.”
“Did them? Ha! Was no more than a lick and a promise.”
“But, Mum. I’m up to the last chapter.”
“No buts. You’ll do your chores before anything else.”
Lisa muttered as she stomped to the broom closet.
“And don’t give me any more of that lip or you’ll be reading on the other side of your face for a week.”
When I’m an adult … Lisa promised herself.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.