What began as an effort to preserve about 80 pounds of fresh-picked oranges became an interesting social experiment in motivating the eight unique personalities in my family. Maybe you can identify with at least one of them. I found myself using different techniques of persuasion to motivate each person to ultimately end up with a freezer full of OJ.
Dad: “Who Wants to Hear Another A’Peel’ing Orange Joke?”
Gabe didn’t require much persuasion as he greatly values having fresh OJ in the house. And I think he could sense my determination that we were going to do ALL the oranges in one afternoon so he knew it would behoove him to help. He utilized the tactic of, “a happy wife is a happy life” 🙂 And he couldn’t help himself to cracking as many ‘orange’ and ‘peel’ jokes as he could muster. A couple of them were actually pretty funny!
Mom: The Orchestrator
It was my job to keep all the parts of our assembly line moving with maximum efficiency. Not only did I need to make sure the oranges were being juiced correctly, but I had to make sure all my minions were engaged, doing their part, and not wanting to wring each other’s necks. My need for being productive, frugal, food-preppy, and organized was being satisfied 🙂
Child #1: “Stay Out of My Cookie Dough!”
She is eternally optimistic and likes to be part of the group. She is also our Sunday cookie maker. We all agreed that we would prefer to have her make a batch of cookies than help with the oranges. So we gave her some space on the side counter to bake some double-chocolate-chip-mint cookies. She made sure everyone only got their one sample of cookie dough while she sneaked several when she thought no one was watching 🙂 She exclaimed, “perfecto!” when the first batch came out of the oven. The kitchen was alive with the smell of citrus and chocolate!
Child #2: The Responsible Joker
This child hardly ever has a bad day and has an extremely sensitive moral compass that likes to point in the ‘right’ direction. His fear of feeling guilt for intentionally doing something ‘bad’ results in a very obedient disposition—of which I will be eternally grateful for! It didn’t take much to motivate him to help. He is old enough to wit-fully banter with Dad and is actually pretty funny. He creatively carved one of the oranges to look like the grim-reaper.
Child #3: The Stealthy Escape Artist
The first obstacle for getting this child involved was helping him overcome the ‘slimy’ feeling of orange goo on his hands. A pair of latex gloves solved that problem. I granted him ‘leave’ to use the bathroom. Thirty minutes later I realized he wasn’t back and so I called his name. I heard a sheepish “what?” coming from his bedroom. I firmly invited him to return and promised he could have two cookies instead of one when we finished the oranges. That prospect brought a smile to his face and he was again engaged. Typically the kiddos only get one cookie on ‘cookie Sunday’ before dinner. They can have more after dinner.
Child #4: “Can I Have the Most Important Job?”
She started out with a good attitude until she cut her finger resulting in the tiniest drop of blood visible by the human eye. We told her that happens all the time on ‘Chopped’ (our favorite cooking show) and the contestants just put on a glove and keep on working. She was convinced enough to put on the glove and agree to continue helping. But, in her injured condition, she had to be reassigned to a different position. As she surveyed all the ‘posts’ in the orange juicing assembly line she concluded that my job of operating the juicer would be most suitable for her. She perceived it to be the most ‘fun’ job and the position of greatest power which would elevate her above her younger brother and rival. To keep her engaged I gave up my position and moved on to packaging all the juice for freezing. She was happy. When she gets cranky, we all suffer.
Child #5: “This is My 3rd Pair of Jeans”
He is 6 years old and still at an age that he’s not quite useful all the time. As we started our processing we determined it would be best if he didn’t help us—especially because his first request was to operate the juicer. Thankfully, we were able to divert his attention to playing with legos in his room. He came in about an hour later and discovered that Child #4 was now operating the juicer. What an injustice! Child #4 was smugly content with the fact that he realized she was doing something he wasn’t. Realizing how this situation could escalate and wanting to humble Child #4’s inflating ego, I told Child #5 he could juice the last round of oranges (under my supervision). In the meantime we put Child #5 on peeling duty. He enjoyed laughing at all of Dad’s jokes. Somehow he managed to get more orange on the front and the back of him than in the bowl. Once he realized how messy he was he left for his room exclaiming, “this is my 3rd pair of jeans today!”.
Child #6: “I Don’t Want to Take a Nap”
To keep the 2-year-old OUT of the action, we put her in her hi-chair for an extended snack. I had tried putting her down for a nap but to no avail. About 30 minutes later Gabe noticed she had fallen asleep, face down, in her hi-chair. Even the most stubborn run out of gas eventually!
We’re Not Just Juicing Oranges…
I am grateful our home is full of a variety of personalities. Although it may be exhausting, frustrating, and overwhelming at times to keep the peace and everyone working together, the few moments of cooperative harmony make it all worth it. I realize what may have appeared as merely juicing oranges was really a lesson on team work, patience and cooperation. But I guess that pretty much sums up one of the great purposes and treasures of living in families.