September 10, 2008

Building Character Through Ridiculous Chores

Sometimes I wonder if kids still have chores these days. I’m sure some kids do, but if television shows are any indication (and television shows always present life just as it is…), then the vast majority of children have never done a chore in their life.

My brother and I used to have this chart on the refrigerator that would let us know what chores we had to do, and if we did them all we’d get an allowance. I’m pretty sure I was never paid my allowance and my parents still owe me, with interest, approximately $20,354.54. Or they could just buy me a MacBook Pro and we’d call it even. A white one with the Adobe CreativeSuite.

The chart was a pre-made one with normal chores (make the bed, do the dishes, feed the pet, etc.). But my parents had other chores they added to this. Among these chores was perhaps the most ridiculous task ever devised by a parent in the whole world forever and ever, amen.

Our house had (still has, in fact) a magnolia tree. Naturally, the branches on a magnolia tree begin about one foot above the ground. Since this tree was near a path and a door we used regularly, the prior owners had cut all the branches about seven or eight feet up the trunk. Said tree was in a natural area (meaning it was surrounded by pine straw and azalea bushes…no grass).

Apparently my parents were of the school that torturous chores build character. You know what else builds character? Bending over until your back feels like it’s going to fall off and all that will be left of you is a head and legs. Not a pretty picture.

With these beliefs in mind, my parents made it a chore that my brother and I would pick up the fallen magnolia leaves from the natural area. I’m sorry, what did you just say? Yes, I said that they made us pick up leaves—from a tree—in the natural area. What else goes in a natural area besides leaves?

After we picked up the leaves, we had to move all the pine straw so they were at perfectly straight 90 degree angles with the porch. I kid.

So we divided the area in half and I promise you my “half” was actually my “two-thirds.” But then, I was the younger sibling, so I was always the victim. I’m pretty sure my lower back is sore to this day because of this “chore.”

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