Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Glimmer of Hope

Last week, our neighbor accomplished something I have been trying to do for a while: instill a sense of responsibility in my daughter.

The neighbor called to say they were going on vacation.  “Is there a teenager at your house who would like to earn a little extra money by watering my plants?” 

This is like when the prince shows up at Cinderella’s house to ask if there are any young ladies whose foot would fit the glass slipper.  Or Samuel asking Jesse which of his sons could be king of Israel (1 Samuel 16).  The evil stepmother and Jesse don’t even consider that Cinderella or David are in the running.  My two older teenagers would be just right for the job, but they were busy at a summer internship and Scout camp. 

That left Youngest Daughter – she of the late homework, the reluctance to comb hair, and the refusal to clean room.  This girl does not receive an allowance because she refuses to comply with the one teeny allowance requirement:  filling out a monthly budget page.  In fact, she actively argues against responsibility.  Me:  “Brush your teeth.”  YD:  “They are my teeth.  I can choose to not brush them if I want.”  Me:  “No you can’t.  I’m not standing by while you condemn yourself to rotten teeth before the age of 25.” 

She is not ready to marry the prince, be the king of Israel, or water someone's garden, is she?

Nevertheless, I told her about this opportunity to make some money, and she thought about it for several hours before calling back the neighbor.   Before she committed, she wanted to know just how much work it was going to be.

YD arranged a time to go to the neighbor’s and get the scoop.  She arranged it without me intervening.  The first glimmer of hope!

I went with her at the appointed time, figuring I would end up being the one to do the watering. Not only is this neighbor an excellent neighbor, but she is an excellent gardener, and has plenty of potted plants also.  It would be wrong to abandon her gorgeous horticultural efforts to an irresponsible teenager.

The task turned out to involve a lot of watering, but nothing a conscientious teenager couldn’t handle once a day for four days.  After YD had found out the tasks, she said, in a shockingly mature phrasing, “We haven’t discussed the payment yet.”  The neighbor generously offered $20 for four days of watering.  YD’s eyes popped.  She accepted the job immediately.

I was all “Your first paying job!” and “How will you remember to do the watering?” and “This doesn’t get you out of your dinner chore.”  YD just went home and disappeared into the office.  A while later she came out with this typed list of the oral instructions the neighbor had given her.  The second glimmer of hope! 

Check out the self-motivational speech in # 8.
Click to embiggen for actual reading.

The first day of her gardening duties, I was ready to do it myself, assuming that YD would have lost interest.  But no, she went over by herself without being reminded, and got the task done.  The third glimmer of hope!  The second day I went over with her, just to see how it was going.  She lectured me on what order to do things, and how much water the plants should get.  The third and fourth days she again did her job without being reminded.  

It turned out these four days were the hottest days of the past 200 years (or that's what it felt like).  YD's watering made a huge difference for those plants, perhaps even a life-or-death difference.

Thanks, Neighbor, for giving me a chance to see these glimmers of hope.  And thanks, YD, for stepping forward like Cinderella and David, and proving me wrong.

So, what do you think – should I offer her $20 to brush her own teeth?

What glimmers of hope do you see right now?

A glimmer of hope in our hanging tomato planter


Anonymous said...

That is so awesome! I am very pleased and touched by your YD. I love the motivational item #8!

Cassi Renee said...

I've always thought bribery was one of the better parenting moves :-) Now you know how much you need to offer!