Self esteem comes from letting kids figure out that they are capable of things they think beyond their reach. There’s not enough “good jobs” or “atta’ boys” on planet earth that can touch what is earned and felt by overcoming adversity. Kids need to be challenged and trusted to figure it out, not to be spoon fed and told they’re mommy’s little perfect miracle. Nobody likes that kid when they grow up.
Take the fine art of shit shovelling. It’s gross. Powdered poop sticks to body sweat. Smells penetrate your cells. Your muscles plead for relief. But you do it. You do it because it has to be done. Relief comes when it’s over and you’ve earned yourself some simple comforts. Maybe you get a bowl of homemade ice cream that you feel worthy of, maybe a plunge in the cow trough. But, real reward comes from the feeling of completing something you really didn’t want to do and completing it well. Emotion is trumped by purpose.
We do things because they must be done not because it always feels good. We do them with care and diligence because that’s the mark we want our work to leave. This picture is of one of our daughters when she was about seven or eight years old, cleaning out the hen house. I remember that day. We were singing songs and telling each other made up stories in between gagging from the soaked deep bedding pack.
We raised three little girls into three amazing young women. Each of them, strong and clear in conviction, brilliant, and moral. All strong athletes happy to jump on the boy’s teams and open up a can of whoop-ass. They are a good, loyal hearted crew, trusting in the capabilities of their strong bodies and minds. And all of them can shovel shit with the best of them.