Ordinarily if someone said they’d like to clean our house, I’d probably be miffed. But the ones offering were little girls, related to us by blood, looking for a way to earn spending money.
Who doesn’t want children to learn the link between work and reward? It’s a double bonus if the work is done at your house.
They had written chores and the amounts they would charge on little slips of paper they shook out of a small plastic bag. Windows for 10 cents, baseboards for 50 cents, dusting for a penny and vacuuming for 25 cents. The price structure was odd, but every budding tycoon starts somewhere.
They were affordable and eager, and the baseboards hadn’t been cleaned in ages.
They arrived in the morning in work clothes and attacked the baseboards with wet soapy cleaning rags, smiles on their faces and songs in their hearts. It was pure inspiration. I don’t think I’ve ever been that cheerful cleaning the kitchen.
Maybe I need to start paying myself with small coins. Or large bills.
“Boy, your house sure is dirty,” one said gleefully.
“It sure is,” chimed in a second.
“There’s coffee everywhere!” exclaimed another.
One started cleaning cabinet doors, even opening them and cleaning them on the inside. I was living the good life.
“Grandma, you want us to clean the crumbs inside the cabinets or just clean the boards below the cabinets?”
I was about to justify coffee and crumbs, when the youngest stood up and softly said, “I quit.”
“What do you mean you quit?”
“Well, we cleaned for a neighbor, and it was a lot better than this. She gave us each a spray bottle, a new sponge and a little pan to put our tools in.”
I’ve heard younger workers are more demanding today, and now I was looking one in her 6-year-old face.
“But if you quit now, I’ll have to dock your pay.”
She handed me her wet scrub rag, tossed back her hair and announced she was going to find Mommy.
“You’re doing a good job, girls,” I called to the ones still on task. The last thing I needed was a worker walkout.
“How much do you think we’ll make, Grandma?”
“At least five dollars,” I said.
“It’s a lot of work for the money.”
Tell me about it.
They did a stellar job, and we settled up, doling out coins and bills for the enumerated jobs.
Their mother appeared and took a dollar from one to illustrate the principle of paying taxes. The others, quick on their feet, dashed to backpacks and tucked their money inside, hence, averting taxes.
We treated the workers by ordering pizza for lunch, and one of the girls asked how much breadsticks cost.
I told her. She paused briefly before slipping away then reappeared with money for breadsticks.
“That’s my working money,” she said, with a smile and a sigh.
Welcome to the club.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at email@example.com.