Kids and Caring for Equipment

Our kids learn a huge amount from us and sometimes the best lessons are ones in which we wind up looking like complete idiots.  A case in point is what happens when you don’t pay attention to the cleaning – or any other – equipment that we use around the house.  Specifically, a vacuum cleaner.

For years, we owned and used a Hoover upright vacuum cleaner.  I was familiar with the sound of the motor as an indication that the bag was filling, and I periodically checked regardless even if it sounded alright.  With a shaggy dog and multiple cats, it was necessary.  But as the kids started to use the vacuum to help with the cleaning, I paid less attention.  I mentioned – although they’ll deny that I did – that you have to listen to the motor, but earbuds interfered or the radio was turned up or they just weren’t familiar with the sound of a straining motor.  And the bag filled with my assuming that it was being checked.

Until a few months ago when I found that the vacuum literally wasn’t even picking up a wad of doghair.  I pulled the cover and found the bag was full.  And then pulled the bag out to discover the hoses were clogged with hair and debris, so much so that even with dismantling the vacuum, I was unable to reach debris pockets that continued to clog the device.  The result was a discarded Hoover and a new Bissell.  What pulled me to this new vacuum wasn’t the manufacturer but that it had a clear tank in which you could see the dirt and debris so that  you knew when it needed to be emptied.  So now the kids were able to clearly tell that the vacuum canister was full and could empty it.

But as miffed as I was at having to buy a new appliance for a bad reason, I had to stifle myself since this one was on me.  Why?

  • I’ve routinely done the vacuuming – and other cleaning – when they’re not around and they haven’t had the visual osmosis of seeing Dad follow the routine.  Kids learn a lot by observation and they’ll form the habit of doing things from just growing up watching you.
  • I forgot that kids need to be constantly reminded and aren’t always dependable.  I assumed that because I mentioned it, that it was done.  Don’t forget to check the bag when you’re done.  Did you check the bag when you were finished?  Expect them to squawk and roll their eyes in exasperation, but keep it up or else you live with the results.
  • I wasn’t the adult and simply didn’t even check the damned thing myself and assumed that it was in decent shape.  Attention to detail is a learned trait and one that they have to pick up from the adults in their lives.  In this case, it wasn’t me.

So I’ve had a good kick in the mental butt about my responsibilities.  There are some other areas in which I’ve had to check myself to counter parental laziness and pick up the slack.

Now I have to remind them to actually look at the clear tank canister on the vacuum cleaner.


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