No Fine Whines
“You can overcome anything if you don’t bellyache.” ~Bernard M. Baruch
We started giving our kids “jobs” pretty early in their young lives so they would get used to helping make our home run efficiently.
Our son works in a steel manufacturing plant, and our daughter raises cattle.
Still, each of our kids has a loosely defined set of responsibilities around our house that is all theirs. I have never aspired to be my children’s maid, and Billy isn’t game for the butler role, so our short people have to learn how to be self-sufficient. Each person is responsible for helping with their own laundry, busing their own dishes, and cleaning up their own messes.
However, for more “general” household activities, we have a round-robin approach to the assignments. This means that we all take turns feeding the dog, setting the table, and taking out the trash. I’ll have to get more systematic as the kids get older and start to catch-on to the “coincidence” that if you walk by me while I’m working, I’ll give you an assignment. With this chore “roulette,” inevitably, everyone gets chores they dislike from time to time.
While my daughter loves vacuuming, she is not a fan of doing the dishes. While my son is all about organizing “stuff,” he gags when he has to feed the dog (and it’s dry kibble and barely smells!!).
What I didn’t realize was how much my son hates taking out the trash. He’s never complained to me when I give him the “take out” job. Then, this summer, I found the sketch below. (Note the oversized Glad trash bag and the less-than-glad Josh face.)
Billy and I consider it our responsibility to raise children who don’t whine and complain. This is for the good of our family, all those who will eventually work with our kids, and for the kids themselves. Upon discovering this picture, I realized that I was a bit ignorant about my son’s feelings on trash removal, but that really didn’t bother me. Bottom line, it doesn’t really matter how he feels about the chore, it has to be done. The reasons to complain are obvious, but they really don’t work or make the chore go away. I suspect he realizes that. My son does his job even though it’s kind of a miserable task and not satisfying at all.
Many of life’s necessary duties carry some element of unenjoyable, tedious, or dissatisfying labor. It’s great to experience a dreary chore of life, think about how to improve it, and then make it better. So many of life’s great inventions exist because of this (aka, the dishwasher, lawnmower, car wash, and dry cleaners). Brainstorming a new way to do something is different from complaining.
If you don’t like something, think about how to improve it. If you can’t change it (traffic, the weather, how often the trash fills up), then keep the complaint to yourself. Winnie the Pooh was much more tolerant with Eeyore than I would have been. I’m afraid I would have told Eeyore to either suck it up, clam up, or take a hike – which would have made a terrible children’s tale.
We’ve all seen what happens to complainers when they grow up, haven’t we?
They join Facebook and Twitter just like everybody else…and use it to whine all over social media. The coffee is cold; the traffic is terrible; the weather is unpredictable; blah, blah, blah. I’m not talking about the occasional spout-off; I’m talking about the constant drone of dissatisfaction (“Oh no, I’ve lost my tail again…“). The world doesn’t need to see another whiny status update, tweet, or complaint about something that life never promised us. No one owes us an easy path, so, on the days when the rains fall, we best hunker down, dig deep, and help ourselves push through the trial.
I try to remind myself that complaining is merely the evidence of a lack of preparation for what life might bring my way. I’m not guaranteed a day devoid of rain, flat tires, or crashed hard drives any more than I deserve to be blessed with days full of sun, inflated tires, and computers that make my job easier. Too often, we treat our days as if nothing challenging is going to happen–and then it does… and we act all surprised. I think it is better to prepare ourselves for difficult days and tough chores. This preparation helps us become people that others can rely on, want to be around, and want to follow.
Of course, when I’m feeling frustrated with an Eeyore in my world and spout off about it, I realize that I’m doing the very thing that I’m accusing them of doing. I’m complaining.
Maybe I should take a page out of my son’s book, shut my mouth, hold my nose, do the job, and just draw a picture instead.