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
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
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
What glimmers of hope do you see right now?
|A glimmer of hope in our hanging tomato planter|