When I was a kid, I was expected to do chores around the house and yard. All of us in the family had to share chores. I learned to keep my mouth shut and just do it, no matter how distasteful. I didn’t mind doing dishes, taking out the trash, or ironing. I faltered when it came to tidying up the messy garage. There was always so much dirt and I had to take an immediate shower right after. I could water the plants without complaint or wash and wax the car. Sometimes I traded jobs with a sibling when it wasn’t convenient. This made for better relationships with everyone.
One year we got an above ground pool. Boy, were we ever excited! Our reward for hard work around the house was to get to take a swim. The water was crystalline and clean and set at a perfect temperature for whatever season it was. In the winter, we liked it toasty warm, but in the summer a bit crisper as a respite from the hot sun. It was the focus of a lot of family fun and much time was devoted to the care of the pool. Not one of us declined to help clean the pool when there were leaves afloat. We also learned how to add chemicals in just the right proportion so we didn’t harm our skin while swimming. Sometimes we went with dad to the pool supply store to buy supplies and we learned about different options which were less toxic to humans. We enjoyed our outings as they were few and far between.
One time, I was with dad at the pool emporium when I saw a pool cleaning robot. It was an automatic vacuum in essence and the latest thing in pool care. It was moderately expensive as I imagine it had a pretty good motor and was well made. I loved the idea and begged dad to make the purchase. Not this time, he exclaimed. A few weeks went by and it was getting to be around the time of my birthday. As it fast approached, I couldn’t imagine what would be my gift this year. As a kid it was sometimes a big thing like a bicycle or a smaller item like a skateboard. Sometimes it was personal like toiletries and clothes. I usually didn’t get asked what I wanted. I assumed that my parents would know. This year, I saw no wrapped package in the dining room where I imagined they would put my birthday gift—in plain sight. I was getting a bit disappointed. Maybe I was going to get money. What kid doesn’t love that, but it is more fun to see what people select on their own. Evening came and we had dinner and a nice homemade cake. After blowing out the candles, I made a wish and we resumed my birthday celebration. The highlight was my gift. Yes, I did get one. Dad took me outside to view the pool-cleaning robot already at work. Ya ha! Victory.