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The pictures we don’t take

January 8, 2014

Do you have very many photos of your kids doing real work? Not just photo ops?

In the basement near our wood stove, I keep a pair of gloves that reminds me every day (during the winter) of how our children grew up knowing that work—real work—not just the photo op kind, was expected of them. (I know, and here is where I tell you how they had to walk to school every day two miles over snow, barefoot.)

These 0 degree days are the kind of times that bring out old codger stories like that.

P1040837(Pausing while helping cut wood; they usually enjoyed our excursions to the woods for this chore.)

I’m not an old codger, (am I?) but I do think that expecting our kids to help cut firewood (well, of course they only did the carrying and stacking of wood part, but they know how to hold a limb so my husband can quickly make kindling out of it), help rewire the house one summer, work in the garden, can and freeze vegetables, and wash dishes and clean sinks has helped them know you don’t get through life without lifting a finger. You know?


I just don’t have a lot of pictures to prove it. What you see in this blog post is pretty much the extent of “work” pictures. (I think most of us don’t have “work” pictures, especially of ourselves, because these are not generally moments we grab the camera or phone to make a selfie. Like this one I took of how I was dressed yesterday morning to tend the fire when we were 1 degree below zero.)


Other bloggers (Hannah Heinzekehr at The Femonite, for one) have talked about this not unusual phenomena of only picturing the happy fun and entertaining parts of our lives.

One year our daughters each got their own pair of real work gloves—like daddy’s—particularly for helping with the unending chore of carrying in wood.


They were to write their names on their gloves.


What’s amazing to me is that this particular pair survived the fate of most gloves around our house: separation until a pair is deemed irreparably separated for ever and lost. This pair, at least 15 years old, fits my hands quite nicely so I try to hang on to them.

They help me be thankful for having our kids grow up knowing how to work, and being very diligent about applying themselves today to whatever their tasks.

P1020692Washing the car, for real.

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people …  will respect the way you live.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Do you have pictures of your kids working?


From → Faith, Family Life

  1. Lauree Purcell permalink

    You were smart to instill this work ethic in your kids early. Now that two of them have babies, I’m sure they are working harder than ever to keep up with the never-ending tasks of daily living.

  2. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    Our 4 kids all grew up having chores to do and I think we did instill a good work ethic into them Like you though even though I do have a lot of pix ,
    I do not have any of them hard at work!
    Probably if I was to look back in some of the albums, I would have pictures of them helping with the wood as before we moved we lived for 37 years in a log home in the country with a wood burning boiler that took a lot of feeding to keep us minimally warm!
    When my husband was very sick for a year and a half, we had many people from our church that came and helped to bring our wood in, but it was me who was the “boiler stoker in chief” gloves and all!! I often wore my long johns, hat and scarf around the house when in the extreme cold days we had to work to keep the boiler temperature up.
    One of the best parts of our new home is the gas heating and the fact that if we want to be warm , we just have to turn up the thermostat

  3. What a nice photo. Truly, that if we train a child while they are young, they will nurture it and when they became parents too, they can pass it too to their children.

    “Train up a child in the way he should go,
    And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

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