Aug 29, 2006

A Good Day with Grandkids

We drove back to the rental house late this afternoon, my 6-year old grandson and I, while the other kids drove with their mother and the dad followed in a third vehicle. The picture we saw along the road seemed from an old Master's painting--many cows grazing in a green pasture with heads pointed west toward the setting sun. It was slightly cool with clear weather cirrus in the west providing various sunset colors. God had painted the entire landscape in a early evening hue that reminded me of my childhood. It's been a good day...

This morning, the three home-schooled kids and I joined their parents to work on finishing their house. After nine months, the new house is almost finished. So what do you give kids of 13, 10, and 6 to do? Today, they cleaned sinks, tubs, and showers into which a lot of carpentry dust and chips had fallen. They picked up trash and discarded brick pieces. Most importantly, they installed 13 doorknobs--plus they reversed a doorknob that the carpenter had installed backwards!

The kids remarkably improved on the time it took to install each doorknob. The oldest was responsible for installing the strike plate in the door jam. First, mark the centers of the two holes through the strike plate with a sharp point. Second, drill the holes using a battery-powered drill. Third, screw the strike plate to the door jam. The latch and latch plate were also installed by the oldest, using much the same process.

The 9-year old and I installed the two knobs in each door. She became quite adept at this, and we were going a lot faster after about 7 or 8 doorknobs. We came back to the rental house at noon, and the kids rested in the early afternoon. We returned about 4:00 PM and finished the last three doorknobs. I told the parents tonight that the two oldest kids were probably experienced enough to install the two remaining doorknobs by themselves. [Although I'll probably work with them tomorrow to finish this job.]

Kids can do a lot when you spend a little time working with them and praising them. Most importantly, they will take great pride in their work if it is reasonably challenging like installing a door knob. Kids that build things never become vandals, because they know the effort required to make something. Rather, they will have a great disgust for people who tear things up.

Last week, another grandson of age 7 asked to help me and he was given about 1 1/2 hour of work to earn a fair amount of money. I told him after he had scrubbed the tub and sink, and did some other things that he was probably the best 7-year old worker I had ever seen. Several days later, he asked me if I really meant that he was the best 7-year old worker, and I truthfully said, yes. My compliment was genuine and he knows it.

His mother remembers with pride the day when she was about ten years old and hoed corn for over eight hours and earned just as much as her two older siblings that day. Personally, I became quite worried because I thought she was going to be gone for only a few hours because she was so young. I guess the farmer neighbor in the Missouri River bottoms thought all of the kids were doing a good job, so he didn't bring the three of them home until supper. She says that day is a very good memory, and it will last as long as my memory of picking 26 pint boxes of black raspberries when I was ten.

If you've noticed my new sidebar, there is a picture of a tiny little girl talking with her hands to a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The caption says "Teach your children to pray," the first thing to teach a child.

The second thing to teach a child is, "Teach your child to work." When I find a suitable picture, this recomendation also will be added to the sidebar. The third thing will be to "Teach your child to help others." We'll get to that one in a later post.

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