Saturday, September 8, 2007

Take Your Daughter to Work Day, Uh...Year

My father has always been ahead of the times. Long before the "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" was initiated in 1993, my dad discovered the value of having your daughters present on the job site. Keep in mind this was in the 1950's and 1960's. It was not done in the spirit of feminism, but because we were cheap labor. Let me explain.

My parents have seven children. I can remember how tight money was. I can still picture my mom sitting over the grocery list and calculating the cost of every single item. She would add them up and if the amount was too much, something had to go. Feeding a family of seven, particularly with boys who could eat an entire box of cereal in one sitting using mixing bowls was tough. By the way, that was ONE box of cereal per boy. That was also in the days of home milk delivery. The milkman got quite a workout bringing our order.

My dad worked three jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes the ends wouldn't quite come together and he needed help on the job. Another factor was that my mom, who is an introvert, would be at her wits end by the time Saturday rolled around from coping with seven, rambunctious children. My dad taking us to work represented a few hours relief for my mom from the chaos. So hi ho, hi ho, it was off to work we go.

It was so much fun. We were little enough to crawl down holes and thread wires. We spackled holes in baseboards, played with all the tools, learned the difference between flat head and Phillips head screwdrivers and played with mercury (that was before it was known that it was dangerous). We rode bush hogs, road scrapers, and dump trucks. OSHA inspectors would have had a field day with all the safety violations, but we never got hurt. I was never in the dark about what my dad did at work. We knew that he had to do hard physical labor. All of my brothers could wire a house by the time they were 12. I felt totally comfortable operating a hammer and to this day, I still get a thrill when the box says, "Some assembly required." I know that I am up to the task. The smell of sawdust is better than any fine perfume. Any ol' day I would choose a trip to Home Depot or Lowe's rather than a department store.

When I got married, my wish list actually included tools and I still harbor a dream of getting the Sears tool box (the one that is shiny red and has the waffled silver border).

The benefit of going to work with my dad is that not one of my siblings has ever used the terms, "girl chores" or "boy chores" because we knew that we all had to pitch in. The work ethic of each kid is remarkable and we had tremendous role models who showed us that whether you worked inside the home or outside the home, it all counts. Thanks Mom and Dad!

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