Child Labor Day


Child Labor Day

This post is dedicated to my father.  The man had us picking up sticks in the back yard before we could even walk, ya’ll.  We crawled ‘em over to the bag.  I swear.



Do you really want to know why we had children?

Because child labor. 


I know, there is a flaw in all of this because the input of labor by the first party might be a bit more than say a drooling 3 month old can provide (it’s really hard to get them to sit up and fold towels at three months.  I have tried) but  I tell you my friends, there WILL BE A PAYOFF.

Here’s the plan:

Three years old:  folding towels (let’s be realistic – folding is not quite the correct term.  Towel origami is more like it, but hey, extra points for creativity.  Once, my son made an entire family of cranes out of  daddy’s underwear.  It was lovely!)

Four years: sweeping da floors and putting away der silverwares.

Five years old:  managing our taxes and tackling our retirement plan.


And from there…


It is clear that the girl in the picture above might have some resentment towards her mother, I know.  She seems to be… gritting her teeth a bit and I am wondering if she would like to take her vacuum attachment (with the extra long handle!) and whack her mother over the head with it.  We’ll never know…

And as for the boy? I have no idea.  He really seems excited about that floor, though.



It just so happens that as our Labor Day came and went I realized there was a tiny flaw in my child labor plans for our household.

Namely, my children are totally incompetent.


I told Blonde to sweep up after lunch.  This is his usual chore and yes, I KNOW he has not graduated on to the family accounting yet but he refuses to wear the uniform (white shirt, pocket protector, harried expression, etc).  Always flexible, I am now readying him for landscaping and lawn care.  He just can’t quite see over the handle of the lawnmower yet.

At any rate, I think he has caught on to that unwritten law that every disgruntled worker has learned:


My husband does this every time I ask him to make the bed.  He stands there, and sort of lifts the sheets up and then puts them right back down again as if they might hurt him.  Then he pats at the bed apologetically and skulks away.  I think he muttered something about OSHA regulations at one point.  If there was an award for half-asszerdry with the bed-making he would win it.

ANYHOW.  I ask Blonde to sweep the floor and this is what happens:

1.  Blonde cannot walk.  He is unable to walk at all. He is sooooo tired.  The tiredness has affected his legs but not his mouth.

2.  Blonde obviously has been brushing up on his classic French literature because now he is lurching across the room like Quasimodo.  He is incapable of holding a broom in his lurchy hands.  He is still just sooooo tired.  But not his mouth.  His mouth is totally awake.

3.  Blonde is now LAYING ON THE FLOOR attempting to WILL the crumbs to come to him.

4.  At some point there is an actual sweep of the floor.  Unfortunately this is so feather light that all crumbs have now scattered to the four corners of the room which might as well be the universe for all Blonde knows because this is soooooooo  hardddddddddd.

5.  Blonde has now resorted to blowing the crumbs into the dustpan.  When Momsie points out that this might actually take more energy than, you know, actual sweeping, there is some grunting from the floor.  I do believe I heard “Give us free!”  and bonus points were awarded for quoting Amistad.  It is an excellent movie but in the context here with a small blonde toddler vs. a broom and a Momsie – it is a bit mismatched.

6.  Blonde has now resorted to actual sweeping, although at this point it looks more like some sort of modern dance routine entitled, “Gloomy Toddler Tries to Avoid Chores.”

7.  Big finish.  Blonde does the splits and I point out he missed an entire corner that is the “Cheerios section” of the kitchen floor.  He collapses with Martha Graham fervor.  I throw a big grey scarf over him and we call it good.

Martha Graham in Lamentation

Martha Graham in Lamentation.  Nobody can do the scarf thing better.


After the applause has ended, I go to check on Red who I had assigned the SIMPLE task of folding wash cloths and napkins.  He only has to fold SQUARE THINGS, ya’ll.   It’s mindless labor, I tell you.  I LOVE doing stuff like this because it’s therapeutic.  Soothing.  My brain can just fuzzle along all it wants with the napkins and I start humming tonelessly and before you know it, I am at one with the universe because of a napkin!

Red does not need to be one with the universe.  And since it’s pretty clear his head is on “fuzzle” ALL DAY LONG he doesn’t need a break with a napkin to give him some peaceful alone time.


So this is what happened:


I have Spiderman underpants on my head. I am so ashamed.    Red could have at least picked Batman.



The lawyer would like me to add:

No toddlers are being put behind lawnmowers and such.

No toddlers were actually made to be an accountant.  That’s just cruel. 

And the underpants were clean. 


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