So the other day I was in the front yard with Nate. He was using the push mower to cut the grass under the apple trees. I like to stay with him while he does this, just until I know he's got the hang of it. As he's doing this, a nice couple is walking their dogs and stop to ask what carrot I am dangling in front of my son to get him to mow the lawn. This question dumbfounded me. They told me that they can't get their teenage son to mow the lawn. All I told them was that I told Nate that I was mowing the lawn at his age, and it was time he learned. No carrot, no threats, no bribes. It's just part of his chores.
That conversation made me think of my responsibilities as a 10 year old. The day after 4th grade ended, I was getting up at 6am to get myself ready, pack up my lunch (that Mom had ready, I just had to assemble) and catch the berry bus. I would pick strawberries (rain or shine) until late afternoon. I did this for 3 weeks, and was paid something like $104. I then spent that money on school clothes. It wasn't always fun, but I learned about hard work. I learned about being responsible to get my butt out of bed and catch the bus, without my Mom telling me to. I learned the value of the dollar, and had to budget that money to get as many clothes as I could. All great lessons.
Now I won't be putting Nate on a berry bus (I think there are new child labor laws against those) but I will be teaching him responsibility. He will have chores, and when he's old enough, he will have a job to earn money. As a teenager, there will not be fighting over him mowing the lawn. It will be part of his contribution to the household. On that same note, there will not be gender specific roles in this house. Lily will learn to mow the lawn, and Nate will learn to cook and do laundry. These are all life skills that they need to know.