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Posts Tagged ‘teaching children to work hard’

I Knew I Liked Don Wood…


When I was in college at the University of Utah, I worked at the most delightful bookstore, The Children’s Hour in Salt Lake City.  One of my favorite authors/ illustrators was the husband and wife team, Don and Audrey Wood.  I loved (and still love) their clever, funny stories and bright, cheerful illustrations.

Then I ran across Don Wood’s bio the other day.  And I found out how much I really liked him.  He is a “Make it Do” kind of guy.  Reading about his childhood really got me thinking.  Maybe it’s OK to struggle, maybe it’s OK to have to work hard… perhaps having to struggle for what we want is what forges our talents.

My son, Ben will tell me sometimes that he is the only kid in his class that has to work so hard… or who doesn’t get all the things he wants.  Poor little lamb!  Well I know that isn’t true.  But we do live in an affluent community where children have a lot.   And he doesn’t have motorized scooters, and trips to Hawaii and every toy known to man, like some kids he knows.

But I also hope someday he will thank me.  When I read about Don Wood, I realize that learning to work hard and be resourceful can create some wonderful results.  Just look at the many delightful, award winning books he and his wife have created.

So I won’t feel guilty about making my kids work and earn… or that I can’t and won’t give them everything they want.  I want to teach Ben to be happy with his life and not feel sorry for himself.  Besides he should be grateful… at least I don’t make him care for 40 acres of potatoes!

Here’s an excerpt of his bio from the Audrey Wood website:

I was born and raised on a farm in the great Central Valley of California. It is one of the most fertile farming areas in the country. We raised peaches, sweet potatos, almonds, grapes, and oranges. My father ran the farm, and my mother was a very popular elementary teacher at a small rural school nearby.

There was always a lot of work to do growing up on a farm. By the time I was in the sixth grade, I had forty acres of potatos to take care of by myself (that’s a lot of potatos). My brother, half brother, and I were doing a man’s work by the time we were twelve. During the summer, that often meant twelve to sixteen hour shifts, seven days per week. Once, when I was a teenager, I remember working twenty-six hours straight. We were paid wages for our work and were expected to pay for own clothes and entertainment, and eventually, cars and college educations.

In the sixth grade, I decided to be an artist. My father was worried about my decision, and I endured some tough pressure to pursue other careers (such as architecture). Luckily my other brothers wanted to run the farm, so my decision did not endanger the family business.
Since summer was so busy, winter was my time to draw. I could never find pieces of paper big enough. In those days, the laundry came wrapped in light-brown, crinkly paper. One day my mother had an idea. She ironed the crinkles out of the paper and gave it to me. At last! A giant piece of paper! It covered the entire kitchen table. From then on, laundry day was art day.


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