The other day, I was peeling potatoes for dinner.

“Can I help you?” asked Gemma-Rose.

“You can, if you can find another potato peeler,” I answered. Somehow peelers are like socks. They fall into The Black Hole and they are never seen again. But this time Gemma-Rose was successful. We chatted as we peeled.

“I really love peeling potatoes, don’t you, Mum?”

“Well… I guess so. But what I really enjoy is having someone to talk to as I peel.”

Soon the pan was full and we were washing our hands. And then I had my brilliant idea.

“Why don’t I buy you your very own potato peeler?”

Gemma-Rose’s face lit up. “What colours do they come in? Can I have a bright one? Would everyone use it or just me?”

“You can lend it to the others, if you want, but it will be your very own peeler. If you put it somewhere safe, you’ll always be able to find it when you want to help me.”

So I returned from the shops with a bright orange top-of-the-line peeler and Gemma-Rose was delighted.

I remember when Callum came home with an unexpected gift for the younger girls. He plonked it down on the kitchen bench: an electric can opener. “The girls can’t use the ordinary opener,” he explained. “They have to ask someone to open cans for them. Now they’ll be able to cook dinners without any help at all.” The girls were delighted and I was impressed with Callum’s thoughtfulness and how he solved a little-sister problem.

At various times we have bought other tools to make it easier for the younger children to help around the house: stools so they can reach the kitchen sink, a small dish-washing brush just for Sophie’s use, Gemma-Rose’s very own dustpan and brush, one of those light and easy to handle mops that uses disposable cloths…

You wouldn’t think one potato peeler could cause so much happiness. Gemma-Rose has a big grin on her face. She wants to know if we can have potatoes for dinner tomorrow. Of course, she is going to peel them. Surprisingly, Sophie is a little envious.

“I’ll buy you a special tool if you tell me which job you'd like to make your own,” I offer. Now Sophie is smiling too.

 I am thinking of all those attractive, brightly-coloured gadgets that cost more than the basic everyday varieties: the rubber gloves that look like hands with painted nails, the dustpans covered in flowers, the pink piggy stirring spoons...  Suddenly I see a use for them. They could be worth the extra money. I could buy a few and give them to the girls…

But what about the boys? How can I get them to clean their bedroom? Should I put together a cleaning kit of dusters and cloths and scrubbing brushes? Perhaps not. Somehow I don’t think they’d react to cleaning tools, however brightly coloured, in the same manner as their younger sisters.

Housework seems to lose its appeal the older we get. What a pity…

“So what job do you want as your very own, Sophie?” I ask. “What tool shall I buy you?” The other girls are quick with suggestions:

“You could have your very own kitty litter cleaning scoop…”

“You could have a fancy duster…”

“Or you could be the family shoe cleaner…”

“A brush for scrubbing potatoes…”

An uncertain look spreads over Sophie’s face. Is the offer of a job and tools really a privilege or is everyone teasing her? Do her sisters just want her to do all the work?

She thinks for a moment and then grins, “Shoes! I’d like to polish shoes.”

I think of my poor neglected boots. Soon they could be shiny and clean. I grin too.
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  1. Bright orange peeler is a great idea. Easy to find as it stands out from other utensils.

    Sue, you left a comment on my Blog in the post The Cocktail Queen Catches Up. This was Part 2 of the story. I've just re-posted Part 1 for you, and others who may have missed it, to read. There are now over 200 Fr Ignatius stories in the Archives. Every so often I re-post old ones, and put some of them in a book downloadable free from my Blog. Your readers are welcome to download any they wish.

    God bless.

  2. Victor,

    The peeler looks like a huge carrot, doesn't it? I hope it stands out from the crowd! Yesterday Gemma-Rose and Sophie peeled the potatoes for dinner. They peeled and peeled and peeled... until they had enough to last us all week!

    Thank you for reposting part 1 of the Cocktail Queen story. I didn't realise there were 2 parts. I have a lot of your stories to catch up with. I sometimes wonder about reposting. There must be posts on my blog that not many people have read. Is it cheating to roll them out for another look?

    God bless and thank you for your comment!

  3. I love this idea. Maybe I could get them each their own tool belt of cleaning tools. Might work.

    1. Hi Pam,

      I am always amazed at how much young children love joining in with all the jobs around the house. They don't seem to find them tedious at all. My younger girls love doing things like making cups of tea, ironing napkins, mopping floors, even cleaning toilets! I am sure the right tools help children feel their efforts are actually valuable. If you put together tool kits for your children, let me know how you get on!

  4. Sue you are brilliant. My mind is whirling wondering what items I could get my girls to make them want to clean more! LOL

    1. Susan,

      Will Amy and Robyn agree I am brilliant? I hope so! I bet Robyn will love a trip to the gadgets aisle of the department store. Even I get tempted sometimes by all the attractive looking things. Let me know what you buy!

  5. That's the dress you bought for me, isn't it Mum? Wow, I'm glad to see it still going strong! Gemma-Rose looks adorable in it!

    1. Hi Felicity,

      I was thinking about that dress yesterday when Gebbles put it on. It must be 18 years old! It's the only dress all five of you have worn. And it is still in good condition! I think Gemma-Rose wrote a blog post about the dress. I'll find the link for you.


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