Is Labor Day A Good Excuse For Child Labor?

girlsLabor Day! Otherwise known as the day we celebrate child labor by having our children participate in child labor. At least that’s how my parents referred to it when I was a kid, and I wanted to take my free day off from school to go hang out with my friends. That’s also how many of my current friends who are parents refer to the day as well.

I can remember spending each of my labor days as a child in the garden as I cut down old corn stocks and dug the potatoes. Both of those projects were all day projects and Labor Day landed at the perfect time of the year and there weren’t any better days to get the job done. We also spent a few Labor Days on the mountain cutting wood so we could heat our house in the winter. But no matter what kind of work project we were doing on that particular Labor Day, I would have much rather been spending my days at the lake with my friends or at least in the family room watching TV.

Our labor days as parents haven’t been filled with much labor. As an adult, I’m not going to use many of my days off from work doing work that I can put off until do another day. My kids aren’t going to find me in the back yard raking leaves or weeding the garden. They won’t find me in the garage sweeping the floor or dealing with the stack of crap that has built up over the years. I’m probably not going to spend much time in the office putting in a few extra hours of billing. Nope, that’s not me.

Even though I’d rather do absolutely nothing on my Labor Day, the inside of our house has to be cleaned on a daily basis, and there aren’t many other days in the year that give us an ideal opportunity to get a little extra inside cleaning done. And that’s when I became my parents as I informed Addie about the true purpose of Labor Day — the day we celebrate child labor by having Addie participate in child labor.

When I told Addie about the purpose of Labor Day she gave me the same look I gave my parents when they told me the exact same explanation — a dramatic eye role followed by a heavy sigh. And that’s where I finally realized I went wrong as a kid. When I saw Addie give me that dramatic eye roll and heavy sigh as if I couldn’t possibly be serious about making her do actual work as a child — oh no, how could any parent expect their child to, gasp, clean his/her room or play area — that’s the moment I realized Addie needed to spend a good chunk of the day doing labor. The kid needs to learn that work is part of life and if she’s a little better at doing work each day she wouldn’t have so much of it to do on weekends and holidays.

I’m sure my parents thought the same thing when I rolled my eyes at them and heavy sighed. Maybe I would have spent a few more days on the lake with my friends if I had just hid my disgust a little better.

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