PARENTS

Achtung Baby Or Forced Labour!

18/08/2011 15:37 | Updated 22 May 2015
Achtung Baby or Forced labour!Getty

I read an article this week about an 11-year-old boy in Germany, who called the police to accuse his mother of forced labour! A shocking and terrible thing.

But this über strict Mutter had not packed him off to a Siberian Labour Camp to smash rocks with his bare hands, nor had he been required to shin up the chimney and scrub its innards with his toothbrush. The request was simple. Help clean the house and the terrace. Not particularly unreasonable.

The final straw, apparently, after all that backbreaking toil, was being asked to pick up some paper he had dropped on the floor. Feeling no doubt deeply oppressed and abused, this provoked the lad enough to put in an official complaint with the police.

Whilst tempted to go off at a tangent about my positive experiences regarding Die Polizei, suffice it to say he was given short shrift and is unlikely to call 110 again in a hurry.

Laughing about this with my husband, he pointed out glibly, had that happened in the UK, Social Services would probably have been knocking on the door before the kid had replaced the receiver.

Finje has chores. Some are to be done as and when requested, others are set in stone. She must tidy her room before bed. She always sets the table before we eat and takes her own crockery and cutlery back to the kitchen. Recently she has been vacuuming her own room and putting away her own clothes.

Personally, I think she has it pretty good. In fact, I'm often found wracking my brain to think of more jobs for her to do. Ironing, I suppose, is out of the question, and mowing the lawn. Sadly.

She does, occasionally complain of course, but, as the Germans so nonchalantly put it, that will change nothing. She is given no choice and gets on with it.

I was quite proud of this parenting achievement - until yesterday.

Theatrically sweeping her arm across the length of clutter free carpet, she presented to me, with a flourish, her freshly tidied bedroom (toys shoved in various places she considers to be out of my eye line). I praised her for her efforts as positive affirmation is all part of exemplary parenting is it not? As I turned to leave she lay a hand on my arm.

"Is it good enough to get €5.00?"

I think not!

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