Being the youngest of three girls had benefits when it came to chores except for the guilt. I often felt guilty because Sandy seemed to be responsible for all the chores. If I wanted to help, I was either too little, too slow or I didn’t know how. My ability to feel guilt got overdeveloped. It never occurred to me that being five years younger than my sister did present challenges.
As I think back, I was supposed to pick up my/our room and dust. I also shook the scatter rugs and dust-mopped the bedroom floors. Sandy couldn’t shake the rugs because it upset her stomach. Finally, something I could do better. Daily I made my bed and eventually our bed when I began sharing a room with Sandy. I cleared the table after meals, dried dishes, and put them away. I used to play the role of gopher for my sister. I would run for the things she needed like Windex, paper towels, and pledge. I would sweep the kitchen floor after the dishes were done.
Summer chores included cleaning out the window wells and helping Sandy weed the garden. I would also help pull the weeds from between the bricks on the brick sidewalk and from the cracks in the driveway.
When I was a bit older, my uncle gifted me with two hamsters. Before long, we had boatloads of hamsters and in order to keep reproduction to a minimum, I had six hamster cages to clean. The rule was they had to be kept clean and couldn’t smell or out they would go.
Many a Sunday was spent cleaning and scrubbing hamster cages. Somehow the fun I had anticipated when I asked for this gift, turned into work I dreaded. To solve my dilemma, I sold all the hamsters for $1 each. I was relieved to see them go. The parents of my buyers were not always thrilled, but I made sure to sell them one at a time with no mating pairs.
Around this time Sandy was dating Art and my chore assignments changed. Dad purchased a dishwasher and my chores became loading and unloading and scrubbing pieces that were too large. Somehow this was never as much fun without the constant banter and bickering that went on with the team of Sandy and Judy doing the dishes.
I never minded doing chores. I just minded being told I was too little or not capable enough. I know after Sandy got married and left, Mom did many of the chores herself. She and I would share duties when she had a sewing project or needed to help Dad with his bookwork. I never had any formal chore list but we always seemed to work it out.
I always wondered who picked up the lawn mowing and trimming after Sandy left. I did wash Dad’s car a few times. He would pull it out of the garage and put it on the lawn. After “inspection”, he would put it away. I did see him wash his car a few times after Sandy left.
I sometimes wish I had been the middle child. It seems that Sandy learned a lot about getting things done and received frequent praise. I think this was a confidence booster for her and goodness knows, I could have used some of that.
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