Monday, July 16, 2007
Grow your own Bionics
Do the grocery clerks survey your bevy of children at checkout and give you a pitying look? "Do you need some help getting out?" they ask.
"No thanks," I used to grin, "I've got plenty of help." Then I'd enjoy the clerks' astonishment as my tots cheerfully gathered up the bags and toted them out of the store. (It works even better now that my children are teens.)
I'd have to say that this is the first secret of Wonder Woman. Children are your bionics.
When I needed a day of quiet in order to plan out the next semester's homeschool studies, well-meaning friends used to offer to babysit my little ones so that I could really work. Truth to tell, I couldn't really work without them. While I was planning lessons, they were doing the laundry, watering the garden and cooking supper - all the stuff that would have intruded upon my planning in any case.
Now before you call the authorities about child labor, take note. While they watered the garden, they picked flowers and ran through the sprinkler. My girls loved experimenting with new recipes whenever they cooked dinner. And folding laundry was a counting and sorting game for the littlest boy, punctuated by the opportunity to operate machines larger than himself.
I remember their looks of smug satisfaction as I would explain to said friends that I really couldn't spare my 'bionics'. They weren't in the way of my productivity. They were the reason that I could get three times more work done than everybody else.
And while my bionics didn't cost 6 million dollars, they did require an investment of time. We had to work side by side for a while until they learned the ropes - and the attitudes that would give them pride in work well done, and the revolutionary idea that working together could be fun.
Weren't there ever times when they didn't cooperate? Sure. Every organic system is constantly growing and changing. The delights offered in the work matured as the children did. And young slackers were offered the dreaded nap and appropriate discipline. But for the most part, they do cooperate.
They understand that this work together equips them for their own work. They see with increasing joy, that this homely labor is the key to their adult effectiveness and independence. And they look forward to the time when they can grow their own bionics.