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“This Stove is Filthy. I Thought I Told You to Wash the Dishes!”

The title of this blog is an exhortation I distinctly remember coming from my mother. It addresses the subject of finishing what you start.

 We didn’t have a dishwasher at our house when I was a kid; we all took turns. When it was my turn, it always seemed to me that the dirty dishes were in piles and piles and piles on the sink. There were three parts of this task, as outlined by my mother’s expert job description:

1. Wash the dishes, dry them and put them away.

2. Wash and dry the old cast-iron skillet as best you can, then put it on low flame on the stove to remove all moisture so it wouldn’t rust. (It was aslo important to remember to turn the fire OFF.)

3. Clean the top of the stove.

 I was a reasonably bright kid; I knew the drill. I just didn’t like the job. I felt enslaved to the sink as all the best TV programs were pelting the airways. (Dad put up an antenna that could pull in six states, but that’s another story.)

One day I took a shortcut. The stove looked clean enough to me, so I let it go.

I got caught.

“This stove is filthy. I thought I told you to wash the dishes.” (It had occurred to me that the dishes and the stove were separate items and from a kid’s viewpoint it was unfair to combine them but, fortunately, I was bright enough to keep my mouth shut.)

I cleaned the stove. And I don’t remember cutting the dishes job short again. Now, I’m not suggesting I did everything perfectly after that, but I do believe I managed to capture a pretty decent work ethic. For that, I thank a pair of hard-working parents who lived their integrity every day of their lives.

It’s not an automatic thing. If our children are to gain the satisfaction of doing a job well, they have to learn it somewhere. (And isn’t it interesting how a young person with the people skills of smiling, showing respect and delivering their best efforts to the customer can’t stay at the counter at McDonald’s. They’ll be prompted to supervisor before you can blink.)

Willingly doing a job right is not only right, it can translate into cold, hard cash.

In a way, it was unfortunate that our children had a dishwasher when they were growing up. But one day one of Mom’s old tapes ran through my head. It was a bit different, but still the same:

“Son, this mower needs oil. I thought I told you to cut the grass.”

James Sutton, Psychologist  www.docspeak.com

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April 14, 2007 - Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem

3 Comments »

  1. I liked this piece. It reminded me of my childhood and my mother. I had to do all three steps too! There also seemed to be piles and piles of dishes!!!
    However, “I do believe I managed to capture a pretty decent work ethic. For that, I thank a pair of hard-working parents who lived their integrity every day of their lives.”
    I think I did too, EXCEPT I still hate doing dishes!:)

    Like

    Comment by stilldreaming | April 14, 2007 | Reply

  2. This was such a delightful read! I really enjoyed it!

    Like

    Comment by Desiree | April 15, 2007 | Reply

  3. I enjoyed your story. The chores that we have our children do are very important steps in their overall development.

    Like

    Comment by tobeme | April 19, 2007 | Reply


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