On the Virtues of Child Labor, Part 2

We encourage our girls to aim high.

We encourage our girls to aim high.

Many times during Girl 1’s terrible twos, it seemed that we were unevenly matched.  Her will about as strong as mine, but she had time on her side.  She had all the time in the world to think up things for me to do for her.  She had nothing better to do than to fight tooth and nail over each and every little thing that didn’t go her way.

I, on the other hand, had food to prepare (for her), dishes to wash (hers), diapers to change (hers), laundry to clean (hers), not to mention the occasional tasks required for my job, my husband, and myself.  I was worn out, but she was always full of vim and vigor for our daily battle of wills.

Many times I thought, “You know what kid?  Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.  You need a job!”  Like this:

Okay, maybe not quite like that.

Around the same time, Girl 1 and I were attending parent-toddler Montessori classes.  In a Montessori classroom, the students’ individual activities (even those that seem like play) are called “works.”  I inwardly rolled my eyes at this.  (“She’s not working!  She’s playing with a toy.  Give me a break.”)   Also, the grammar snob in me cringed.  (“Work activities” maybe, or “work projects,” but “works”?)

Finally, now it’s all coming together.  She does have a lot of energy to be put to use.  She does need to work.  She needs to learn to channel her energy into something constructive, rather than using it just to yank my chain all day long.  That’s what she’s learning at her Montessori preschool (mercifully, I don’t have to go with her anymore).  And that’s what I try to teach her at home, too.  At age 2 she wasn’t ready to do anything remotely resembling “work,” but now, well into her fourth year, she craves it.

The other day, Girl 1  said, “Mommy, I want to work.  Can you give me work to do?”

Music to my ears.  Maybe she’ll teach me a thing or two.


Note the difference:
Towel on the left- hung by Girl 1
Towel on the right- hung by Mommy

.My first post on this topic can be found here.


4 thoughts on “On the Virtues of Child Labor, Part 2

  1. I want my kids to work, but the down side of having 4 close together is that it takes so much energy to supervise ONE of them through a task, you end up farther behind than ever….

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