Tuesday, January 24, 2012

House Labour

I posted the above picture on my Facebook page yesterday and received so many funny comments from friends and family. I honestly, left Facebook for twenty minutes and came back to a barrage of accusations after I had prepared a dinner for the kids. They were pointing fingers wondering how I would be so cruel to make my kids work as slaves in my own home. 

Funny... I would not let that pass of course and took it a step further to say that they needed to earn their keep of noodles for lunch and five beans for dinner.... No, they do not get breakfast. Needless to say, that it was fun banter which had a ring of truth to it.  No, not the slave part of the whole conversation but the chores part.

I feel our children need to have chores at home to teach them responsibility. We should not do everything for them and neither does our Nanny helper who comes in to help clean the house and keep it organized. Being a working mom who leaves home at 6am and comes back around 5pm, makes being on top of the cleaning a little bit difficult to control which means that I need all the help that I could get. My family and I are lucky to have Cielo who is like my sister and my children's second mother. 
Having Cielo around is a great help but we all have chores as well in order to show our kids that each one of us has responsibilities. Our son has to tidy up his pajamas in the morning after changing into his school uniform. He used to even tidy up his bed last year but now that we joined a different school than his sister's, it is hard for him not to wake her up while doing what was expected of him. He has to tidy up the toys with his sister, despite his complaints, and they both have to place their dirty clothes in the laundry basket. 

As far as I can remember, my mother always had someone who helped her around the house but our rooms were never her responsibility. We had to vacuum the carpets, make up our beds and wipe the dust off our furniture. We were never allowed to ask anything of our House Help as she was not responsible for us or to take our plates to the sink and get us dressed for school. We had to do all our chores ourselves, even wash the car.

I will never forget a lesson my mother taught me when I was around 12 years old with terrible back ache. I was unable to move properly because my back muscles hurt and I did not want to trigger more pain by moving off of the comfortable couch I was lazing on. I asked my Nanny Help for a glass of water only to be scolded by my mother and forced to get it myself. She told me that it was not our Nanny's responsibility to bring me something that I wanted but that I had to go and get it myself no matter what my circumstances were. I thought it a bit harsh but it was a wake up call for me and I never did it again.
A snap shot image of that moment still lingers in my head and pops up whenever I see someone, be it a small person or an adult, treating their House Help badly. I cringe. I know this happens everywhere in the world and as a teacher, I have seen and heard of children throwing their backpacks on the school ground expecting their 'maids' to pick up after them. It is as if these House Helpers are brought into their homes to succumb to their every whim. 
I cringe. 
We should be teaching our children to grow up to be responsible adults in our community. If we allowed them to treat others this way and had everything done for them they would grow up to believe that they have rights above everyone else just because they might have more money, power or a better 'status'. We should be teaching our children about empathy and feeling with others. We should teach them that our House Help have names, a family and above all feelings. We should respect them ourselves and show them kindness. We, as parents, have a GREAT responsibility in shaping our future generations. It is our task to mold them into functional human beings who treat everyone respectfully in order to build a better community for the future. We should expect more FOR and OF our children.


ms. devi said...

Lana, This is such an important post. Anyone who disagrees with this philosophy doesn't get that we are preparing our children to live in the greater family of our world. There is no entitlement by birth or class or wealth. Just as important as raising children to be part of and not indifferent to other people "out there" is that a child who is responsible for the personal part of his world earns respect for himself and a feeling of worth. So important. If you feel you are of value than you value others as well.
It's so unsettling to see childfen being raised to consider other folks doing a day's honorable work considered maids or the like. No one is here to serve us. Manefesting entitlement is ugly and hurtful. You are blessed to have parents who set such a fine example as parents and set the high standard for you to follow. Your kids picked the right mom to be born to. Good karma.

Tabouleh said...

I like your sentence... if you feel you are of value then you value others as well... it is the same as if you want to be treated well then you must start treating others well first... you sow what you reap.