Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Of Jobs and Snow

My children have joined the working class. At 13, 11, and 9, they are more than capable of partially earning their keep, so when our neighbor hired them to shovel snow this winter, Checkered and I shouted, "YES!!" even as our children said, "We'll think about it."  The 6 year old didn't even get to the thinking about it part.

Our neighbors are truly wonderful.  They are kind, thoughtful, compassionate, generous, and tolerant.  They also are having some physical troubles which preclude heavy exercise.  Enter the Flag children complete with snow gear, snow shovels, and a snow blower.

The deal was that the neighbors would pay $20 per storm. And then it started to snow.  And snow.  And snow. And snow. One day we had two different storms in one day.  We've become so acclimated to the snow that we didn't even know we had a blizzard last Saturday until we read about it in the paper.  It was just more snow for us. 

Now my father always likes to remind us that in his Kentucky town, every street is plowed after every storm.  In my Michigan town, the main streets get cleared, but my subdivision must wait about a week after a storm.  When there's a snowstorm every other day, well, you get the picture of the mess my road is right now.

But my sidewalk, driveway, and the neighbor's sidewalk and driveway?  Smooth.

Now, back to my point.  When it snows for 6 or 8 hours, and the wind is gusting up to 50 mph, more than one shoveling is required.  Sometimes it's 3 or 4 times out there clearing the snow.  And my kids and Checkered and I are loving getting out there and working.

But my wonderful neighbor insists on paying my kids for every shoveling. Any paying more than the agreed-upon price.

And to compound the issue, my neighbors' snowblower was stolen last week when they moved it just outside of their garage, and spent 15 minutes taking their dog around the block.  This IS metro Detroit, afterall.

Sorry for all this meandering.  But here is what I am trying to say.  I appreciate that my neighbor is enjoying giving my kids a bit of financial freedom.  I appreciate that my kids are improving their work ethic.  I appreciate that my neighbor does not want to feel indebted to us (even though we would absolutely clear their driveway for free every winter.)  But what I've learned is that being overpaid is just about as awkward for us as being indebted would be for my neighbors.

Whew!  I hoped if I just kept typing, I would finally say something!


Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

You are too funny! But you are right~save some of the money and do something nice for the neighbors!

Your neighbor is lucky to have you! Good neighbors are wonderful!

McEwens said...

I am glad that your neighbors are helping them learn to work, yea, but a bit awkward!

you are GREAT neighbors helping them!!

Sounds like Denver, we dont get the side streets done either!

Have a great day!

addhumorandfaith said...

A great post. I know how unconfortable that can be when your best judgment regarding everyone involved pulls you in different directions. It would be interesting to hear how you resolve your dilemma. I guess one of MY determining factors would be if the neighbors can easily afford what they are paying your kids. If you know they can, I would try not to worry about it.

It reminds me of the time I offered 8 or 9 y/o Gunny the opportunity to earn money by digging up the dandelions that were growing between our back fence and a farmer's field. It was kind of a no-man's-land that was covered with them, and they kept our yard "populated" too. Soooo he started digging, and digging, and digging. I had to make him come in when it was bedtime, as I remember. He just about broke my "bank" in that one day, so I had to withdraw my offer after that. Industrious little opportunist! :)

pam said...

I see more Lego in your future. Just sayin, cash eventually equals Lego.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

If the excess causes alot of worry ... pool the excess and help get them a new snow blower ... or like others said if they can afford it... well have the kids put the extra into savings...or something they might want but cant afford individually but if they pooled their excess they could get together.
just thoughs...
Yeah I am getting excited about this baby... there is so much to get done and so little time to do it in!

Betty said...

hahah, you are hilarious! That´s why I missed you when you were gone!
You can be proud of your kids that they (even with getting paid) want to work for your neighbor. This says you´ve done something right!

Ashley said...

This is so sweet and I bet your kids really appreciate it, but I understand what you mean. It's so nice to have good neighbors. We have good neighbors but my parents are dealing with a rotten neighbor right now and it really stinks!

By the way, I just noticed your chin up countdown over there. Very nice! :)

Nora said...

I know what you are saying. My neighbor pays my HUSBAND to clear his driveway and sidewalks. To help avoid some of the uncomfortablness, we put all said money into our 3-year-old's college fund.

Mental P Mama said...

My kids did this. AND LOVED IT!

Living on the Spit said...

You have such wonderful kids and such thoughtful neighbors too! I understand your dilemma though...I agree with your feelings....a really hard spot to be in.


Dr.John said...

Be happy your kids are learning that work is good. said...

We are the ones having to hire someone to shovel, and I feel it is so worth the money. The person who does my shoveling adjust his payment. The rate is $30 but has charged $15 for a small job. The $30 is for two drive ways and sidewalks.
I think is great that they are doing this.

Mrs4444 said...

How about having the kids donate a portion of the money to a charity? That way, they could feel twice as good! :)