By Glenda Price: CNJ columnist
Every job has a euphemistic title these days. Betty Lou, a wife and mother, met a “business man” at a meeting. When he asked about her occupation she replied, “I’m an early childhood educator.”
“That sounds really interesting,” he said. “Do you ever get called in on weekends?”
Betty Lou suppressed a smile, thought about the question, and decided to strike a blow for mothers, especially country-living mothers.
“Yes,” she said, “Always. A typical day begins at 6 a.m. The animals we utilize in childhood responsibility training must be fed and watered — by the children — under my supervision. So my job description at that time includes the following duties: wake-up hugs for the children, sock finder, boot locator, corral gate opener, hay bale mover, water tank filler, grain measurer, shut-the-gate-reminder, manure scraper, skinned knee kisser.
“Breakfast is next. The children practice measuring, pouring and mixing skills along with proper table preparation and food service. My supervisory duties during this time include dropped food retrieval and proper table manner instruction (reminders against elbows on the table, milk gurgling, forced burping, food tossing).
“Although I don’t wear a whistle, my responsibilities during all activities throughout the day include referee for wrestling, hitting, argumentative discussion, indignant screaming.
“Next comes proper personal hygiene training. My job here is to provide instruction and assistance, when necessary, regarding tooth brushing, ear cleaning, hair combing, clothing color coordinating, boot cleaning (manure removal).
“Pauses sometimes are necessary to check a child’s temperature and to make a decision regarding the question of whether medical intervention is necessary. If not, my next task is driving the two miles to the school bus stop. Often at about the halfway point, a return to the house is required to gather forgotten permission slips, homework or jackets.
“Back at the house it’s time for laundry, dish washing, vacuuming, mopping, bathroom cleaning, meal planning, work in the vegetable garden, repairing sheep halters or stirrup leathers. Sheep crawl through fences, horses learn to open gates, so periodic barn, corrals and pasture surveillance is required.
“Sometime during the day I manage to comb my hair.
“Midafternoon I drive to the bus stop. The drive back to the house is when I could really use a referee’s whistle.
“Animals — and children — need plenty of exercise. After school is the ideal time. Horses are ridden, show animals are exercised or groomed. My job becomes cheerleader.
“Supper is when the day’s events are replayed. My role then is philosophy instructor.”
By then the business man’s eyes had glazed over, so Betty Lou smiled and gave him this golden nugget: “True, my compensation is not a large paycheck, but no amount of money could equal the hugs I get when I tuck the children in at night, when the littlest one brings me a personally-picked flower, when the oldest helps the youngest with a tough problem, when they do their best, whether they win or lose.”
The business man smiled back. “Thank you for the reminder. My mother was like you.”