Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks

You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous

A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray

 

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I’M BORED!!

Al Jones

 

The worst thing that I could say to my mother when I was young was that I was bored. First off, as early as I can remember, I had chores. These were responsibilities I had that, at first were almost fun, as what little kid doesn’t want to help their mother out, but as I got older, they became expectations. 

I didn’t receive an allowance either. In Mom’s eyes, household chores were part of being a contributing family member. For my own spending money, I got my first paper route at age seven. My Dad helped me the first couple of months, until I knew my route off by heart. I would get up at 5:30 in the morning, do my route and then back home to get ready for school. Even then, I didn’t get all of the money I earned. I was allowed to keep half for spending while my mother took the other half. It was many years later, when I moved out on my own, that she handed me a bank book of savings she had squirreled away on my behalf.

But summer-time, well, that was a different story. I worked in the family store, dusting, and filling shelves. When my work was done there, I would go home and tend to my chores. There was no internet or video games in those days, and our little black and white television only had three channels of which, one was French. Kids don’t usually get hooked on soap operas or game shows, so I made the mistake of whining to my mother, “I’m bored… there’s nothing to do.”

That was the summer I suddenly found myself doing work in our little community. This wasn’t paid work, either. It was things my Mom and Dad saw in the neighbourhood that they felt should be done, simply because it was our neighbourhood. I spent two days picking up garbage in the school yard. I spent a day or two every week that

summer mowing grass for a couple of elderly neighbours, of which my payment usually came in the form of cookies and a cool drink. I helped other neighbours weed gardens when ours was already done. My mom informed me that that was only right, as often times, neighbours would give us extra vegetables when they had a bumper crop.

I wasn’t the only kid doing it, either, folks. Back in those days, parents talked to other parents in the neighbourhood. Many of these tasks, the moms had arranged for the kids to work together. Once the job was done, and only when it was done, we could then go and play stickball in the park we helped keep clean, or tag and hide-n-seek on the street.

Those were the days, folks, when neighbours truly looked out for neighbours. You didn’t worry about your lawn getting cut or your gardens getting weeded and

watered, because we all ensured things were taken care of, even when they were away. Those were also the days when a kid learned quickly that the worst thing you could do was to tell your parents that you were bored. But as I reminisce, I can’t help but wish for those days again.

We didn’t have rampant childhood obesity in those days, because we were active. And as we grew into adults, we knew how to keep a home, a yard, a garden and a friendship. We knew what a good work ethic was because our parents instilled it in us. We played hard, because we worked hard. Not just in school, but at home as well. We behaved, everywhere in the neighbourhood, not just at home because we knew our parents talked to each other. And when we did inevitably do something that was wrong, we knew it would be addressed at the dinner table that evening.

The world isn’t like that anymore, folks. But that doesn’t mean, we can’t do right by our children and grandchildren. We can still sign them up to volunteer in the community. They will be kept busy and make new friends. We can still help them with a paper route and teach them how to save. We can still kick them out of the house to play stickball or hide-n-seek. We can keep them active, keep them occupied, and teach them social responsibilities and good work ethics.

We can’t turn back the hands of time… but we can surely ensure that time going forward is productive, healthy and memorable. We owe our children that much.

 

Got a young one that’s bored? Maybe take them to the Boys & Girls Club to see what they can help out with there. The Food Bank is always looking for volunteers to pack hampers or shelves. Elderly neighbours will always appreciate a lawn mowed in summer or walk shovelled in the winter. For more volunteer ideas, please visit www.volunteerairdrie.ca

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