Stop! Your Kids Don’t need any More Birthday Presents.

English: Two-year-old girl in traditional Amer...

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A bell curve perfectly illustrates most parents reaction to kid’s birthday parties; a few love them, a few hate them, and the majority are somewhere in the middle resigned to the “norm”.

At almost every celebration, the script is the same. They ran for 1.5 to 3 hours, start with one or two organised activities, followed by refreshments, then cake, and more often than not a gift opening ceremony in which the birthday child, tears through the packages in record time discarding the “Sensible gifts” and going crazy over the “Cool gifts”

The goal of the celebration, is to make it a special day for the birthday child, and to celebrate their being one year older.

Kids request to have their birthday parties at all kinds of fancy places – based mostly on where their friends had their parties, and what they did. But once you get past the location and the need to do what their friends did, do you ever wonder what it is that kids really, really want for their birthdays? I have questioned my kids and their friends, repeatedly, and concluded that, what kids  especially those under 10 want for their birthday is very simple.

  • Ego stroked: Kids want to feel special – and made to feel important.
  • Friends and fun: Have a good time with their friends and families.
  • Unhealthy snacks: A chance to dine on all kinds of sugar treats and snacks, they won’t normally get at home.
  • Cake: Chocolate cake and ice-cream anyone.
  • King or Queen: Be the king or queen for the day, as everybody sings the happy birthday song to them.

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Chores from my childhood: Can you top this?

Despite the fact that my mother is literally thousands of miles away, I still like to touch base with her regularly especially on matters of child rearing. I respect her wisdom and experience in bringing up kids, being a stay at home mom, not to mention taking care of an extended family, in a part of the world where home automation was nill. Everything was  manual; no dishwashers, no microwaves, no washing machines, no vacuum-cleaners, etc, but it wasn’t a big deal since that was the way it was. I appreciate what I have, which allows me to compare the two lifestyles and I consider myself very lucky to be in that position.

Last week, the topic turned to how the kids were doing and I mentioned some of the chores they do to earn their money, and she burst out laughing as she reminded me of some of the chores we had to do to earn money. After a good chuckle we both agreed,  “It wasn’t Kansas anymore” but the principles and the practices hold.

Here are some of the ones I recall.

  • Doing laundry by hand. We didn’t get paid for cleaning our stuff (mainly small bits of clothing like socks, she still did the last wash), but if we laundered anything extra, like our small T-shirts, she was very generous with the payments. As we grew older the items list changed.
  • Helping in the garden. We each had a small patch (probably 6  by 6 feet), that we could call our own, but if we helped in the bigger garden, we got some serious cash. On top of that any produce that came out of that could be sold for some income.
  • Sweeping the compound after the cows and goats came home – enough said.
  • At harvest time, we picked all the corn and brought it indoors, where we proceeded to shell it and bag it, in preparation for storing it for future use. We could earn as much as we wanted by shelling the corn. This was a fun activity that was open to all the neighbourhood kids with their parents permission. It was a big summer (August) activity.
  • Fetching water, firewood etc.
  • Cleaning the house (no Vacuum cleaners, just the old-fashioned elbow grease).
  • Cleaning the outhouse.
  • Any job which called for hiring an outsider . For example mowing the lawn (With a manual slasher – see picture).

Question:  Any of the above  ring a bell with you?  Did you ever have to do anything like that to earn money?  What are some of the chores your kids do to earn money?