Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Would Mother Think This Job Was Good Enough?

One time while I was assigned to mop the kitchen floor on my hands and knees I thought I was finished after working on it.  Big mistake.  Mother, the eagle-eyed inspector, thought I had done an awful job and told me to do it over again.  Ever since then, I have had a subliminal prompting when doing similar jobs that asks me to ponder: "Would Mother think this job is good enough?" 

Mother always expected no less than our best.  When I was in the fifth grade, I missed school from December 1 until late March with mysterious after effects of chicken pox and mumps.  Louise brought my assignments, lessons, and materials home for classes.  Mother, who had taught elementary school before her marriage, was my teacher.  I can guarantee that I got straight A's (we were graded 1's, 2, 3, 4, 5) in every subject.  I wonder what I might have learned if Mom had home schooled me all the way through school, much of which was a waste of time.  I could have learned more in two hours a day than I did all day in school.  The main thing I learned in sixth grade, for example, was to draw and color a map of France.  I have disliked France ever since and, especially, when I had to pass a reading knowledge of French for my Ph.D. at the University of Michigan.  I thought then of that map of France I spent so much time on in the sixth grade in between pestering the girl who sat in front of me.  We learned to color inside the lines in the first grade and, besides, Louise taught me to read before I went to school so there wasn't much to do but piddle around.  I got expelled (promoted?) out of the second grade.  By Junior High, I discovered I had a "bad attitude" which kept me out of the National Junior Honor Society even though I had one of the highest grade averages in the class.  Problem was, I had no idea I had a bad attitude until I got my report card.

I still wonder as I mop the tile on the kitchen floor if Mother would think I had done a good enough job, or if she would tell me to do it over.  "Any job worth doing, etc., etc., etc., is worth doing well."  It wasn't worth trying to put anything over on her again.  Another teaching ingrained for life.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

And that goes for the paint job on the house. We were used to a white house with copen blue trim, and blue roof. When I rented the house from Burchell, Brig and I painted the outside of the house (including the ell) for rent money. It was hard, especially standing on a tall ladder, painting the high part under the gable. The job we're seeing here is definitely not good enough! Oh, well, time passes on. Dwight, I'm certainly heartened to learn that you scrubbed the kitchen floor. I can't remember ever having to do that, although I spent all day every Saturday cleaning out Ann's bedroom (later to become the bathroom after I left home). Oh, yes, and I had the added advantage of having a book stashed. I think Mother just gave up on me. After all, I was the youngest of the first family. (Judy was the oldest of the second - don't you think she has those first sibling traits of leadership?)