Chore Charts, Eggs and Other Opportunities

The other day I was out of eggs, which as a person who adheres to a Paleo diet, is a crisis.

So I said to Sean, “Hop on your bike and run to the store and get me some eggs.”

“Yeah, right,” he said dryly.  And then we both slapped our knees and laughed heartily.

It was funny because the thought that I would send him the half mile to the store and across a busy 4-lane road on his bike was ridiculous.

It wasn’t ridiculous because he’s not capable, because he is — he is more than capable.  It’s not ridiculous that I would trust him to get the job done, because I am convinced he could.   It’s ridiculous because there is no way under the sun that I would let him go.  I have calculated the risk and it’s not one I’m willing to take.

After I quit chuckling, I felt everything from resentment to heavy heartedness that I couldn’t provide him such an excellent opportunity to practice responsibility in so many different ways from navigating his way there and back to managing the money to figuring out how to get a dozen eggs home without breaking any.

All throughout history, life has provided children with opportunities to practice being responsible.  They tended to the stove and garden and helped care for younger siblings. Boys learned to chop firewood and hunt and girls learned to wring the neck of a chicken and then clean, butcher and cook it up for dinner — all real life jobs that contributed to keeping the body and soul of the family together.

As a Babyboomer, I of course didn’t do any of those things, but I did occasionally ride my bike to the store for a loaf of bread or something for my mom.

And now we can’t even do that.

Today we have to invent responsibility, like chore charts with stickers.  Not getting a sticker or losing iPad privileges is not exactly the same as being the person responsible for not having enough food on the table. (Not a slam against chore charts or those who choose to use them. I love chore charts!)

I’m not saying we can’t raise responsible children in this day and age, I’m just thinking I’m going to have to be more creative in finding real life opportunities for practice.  Maybe the next time I’m out of eggs, I will drive to the store, drop him off with $5 and see what happens.

If he comes out with candy then I’ll start raising chickens.

8 thoughts on “Chore Charts, Eggs and Other Opportunities

  1. Well, you are definitely not alone. We live in an older neighborhood that doesn’t have sidewalks and has curvy hills that make biking treacherous. That said, I wouldn’t let me boys hop on a bike and go down to the store even if we lived on an easy street. One of my friends has both her boys go together to the store to pick up the odd item, and that might be a good solution if you have 2 kids . . .


  2. I often ponder this as well. I grew up on a farm with a dad who hunted. We had a garden as did both sets of grandparents who were within five miles of me. I watched my Granny can tomatoes and put up pickles. I watched Daddy skin and clean deer and filet fish. I know how to plant corn. I haven’t DONE any of those things in years, but if I had to, I could figure it out. We have chickens but won’t be ringing any of their necks as we will use them for eggs as long as possible. We are going to have bees and have a small garden, but some of the knowledge I had won’t be transferred to my kiddos.


  3. This was an advantage to raising kids in a place where I could send my 6 year old up to the local store for butter. Of course they always cheated him on the change, but that was the disadvantage 😉

    I think in a couple more years, you’ll be able to send him on his bike 1/2 a mile. I send my teens on errands like this too. I don’t have answers for you now, although would 1/2 a mile, a street with crosswalk and traffic lights, be okay if he was walking not biking? I don’t know of course, I’m just asking. I tend towards the more relaxed kind of parenting, prob because where my kids grew up. That is, I’m still uptight about character issues (i.e. what parties, who with, etc) but I do allow a fair amount of independence.


  4. I feel your pain.

    Even when we find the opportunities for a little wing-spreading, it’s not easy. I recently allowed my 16 year old to go to London on the train recently. It was all perfectly planned, and totally within his capabilities. He was met off the train by an auntie, and… oh, just trust me when I say it was all planned so that he had the right amount of freedom, independence, responsibility, but only within strict boundaries between being met by other adults. I was so pleased for him (though it was agonising for me when he went, of course). Meanwhile, both sides of the family told me, quite explicitly, that the trip was a step too far for him. Heck, he’s only 2 years off going to college. We live in a very over-protective society.

    (Sorry, I’ve just used your comments to vent about my personal family woes…)


  5. This blog creates some sadness within me. I was raised on the farm with all of the traditional chores provided by agricultural life. I often regretted raising my children in the city. The good news is they all turned out well enough, and still come home for Christmas.


  6. I agree too. My son is 39 and even when he was little he wasn’t allowed to ride his bike anywhere except in our little neighborhood. And I could see said neighborhood from one end to the other.
    Me on the other hand lived to walk to the store. No bike until I was a teen because my dad thought they were dangerous. Jumping ropes were also a danger after my eldest sister trip and broke her arm. I guess being raised by a very cautious man made me a don’t go there you might get hurt Mom, too. When he got his drivers license I even hated sending him to the store for anything thinking if something happened it would be my fault for not just going myself.
    Parenting is tough, neverending and I don’t want to do it anymore. 😉
    I find myself even at his age now reminding him to be careful every time I talk to him.

    No raising chickens here as i’m scared to death of chickens and I don’t eat eggs. ha.

    Jake’s a Girl

    * * *
    Yeah, Sean would have to collect the eggs – I have a bad bird phobia.


  7. Nothing wrong with mom “not getting out of the car” and sending in the kid for a short list of things. With my kids I started that at the local drug store, especially if (WHEN) it was something they needed for school. My daughter hated doing it at first. But hey, off you go if you want that poster board and glue stick, missy!

    I think Sean is going to be better than fine, no matter what.

    And now I have to go look up Paleo diet.



  8. I agree with all of that. And it doesn’t get any easier to let go of that fear (at least for me), now that she’s aged. I hate that. Well, if it comes to raising chickens, I will be your first egg customer. : ) I ran out of eggs that I get from a (good number of miles away) friend with happy chickens and had to pay $4.59 for a dozen organic eggs at Kroger today and about had an attack. Looking forward to getting together with my ‘egg friend’ and trading some cartons for some eggs soon. : )


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