Monday, June 29, 2015


Getting kids to do actual work is work, and it can be exhausting. Sitting on the edge of a bunk bed, smacking the mattress with a ruler, yelling, “Faster! Pick up those twelve thousand Legos faster,” can really take it out of you.  But it’s part of the job description.

Motherhood Manual, page twelve:  Attempt to impart to the next generation of toddler types that sweat is not a reason to lie down and die.

In our family, daughter number two dropped out of dance classes when she realized the moisture on her brow was the result of the body movements she was required to do in ballet. She was five. “I’m too sweaty, Mommy.”

Although, we have grandchildren who think nothing of lugging a forty-five pound tree stump from the burn pile out into the middle of our yard, so they can hoist it onto the picnic table. These are the same kids that often collapse at the thought of having to pick up candy wrappers they’ve tossed to the winds of chance in that same yard. Curiouser and curiouser.

But still we thump the bunk bed drumbeat and try to train the junior galley slaves to “row well and live.”

I knew our kids were beginning to understand the employee/employer work dynamic when, after watching the movie “Ben Hur,” I discovered that the boys had flipped over our picnic table, chained their sisters, Heather and Maren, to the makeshift slave galley, and shoved rowboat oars in their hands.

They’d set up Adam as the “drummer,” while big brother, Aric, yelled, “Faster. Faster,” and “Ramming speed.” Those girls were rowing for all they were worth. Minimum wage was quite low, however.

Still, we continued to try to instill a solid work ethic in our children.

When Adam got his first “real” job, it was to deliver flowers. To nudists. Once in a while. He found it wildly unsettling.

After one brutal encounter at our friendly, neighborhood nudist’s colony he came home to slump at the kitchen counter.

“Rough day?” I asked.

“You have no idea,” he said, reaching for a chocolate chip cookie, “I had to make a delivery to Cypress Cove. You know? The naked nudists place.”



“So?” I tried to sound like I wouldn’t be horrified when he related his workday to me.

“It’s naked alright. But it’s not good naked.” He swallowed a swig of milk.

“But it was cold today. Surely folks covered up.”

He looked at me. “Sure. You’d think so. But on my way to the office, I drove by a really old guy. He had a jacket on and nothing else. A jean jacket. It was short. He was wearing a short jean jacket and nothing else. Did I mention he was really old?”

“Well, look on the bright side, you get paid soon.” I wiped cookie crumbs off the counter.

“Yeah,” he sighed, “but not enough. Not nearly enough.”

Work is ennobling. It imparts a sense of accomplishment. It keeps us active, challenged, and engaged. It can lift and create. It affords independence. Work is NOT a four-letter word.  The Puritans had it right. The gave us their work ethic and high necked clothing. Work well and live and cover up for goodness sake. You are not “good” naked.

Linda (Ramming Speed) Zern


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