Monday, April 1, 2013

We Help Mommy

We Help Mommy
“If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands.”   Milton Berle

     I was talking with one of my married daughters on the telephone recently. Sophia lives an hour and a half away by country road, by bridge over the Susquehanna, by interstate highway and by tunnel through the city of Baltimore. Dean and I see her family less often than we’d like. But we talk.

     At both ends of the telephone there is a cleaning cloth in use in a free hand. How do I know? One morning, Sophia stopped our conversation in mid-flow with, “Wait a minute. What’s he doing?” After this exclamation I heard a laugh. Then she said,  “Would you like to know what your little grandson was just doing? You won’t believe it.”

     “Oh, I think I might,” I said with a confidence born of experience.

The back door at Grandma's house
    She told me. “He pushed a chair up to the fish tank, dipped a sponge in the water and was washing the wall with it. It’s a good thing I just changed the water in the tank.”
     “He likes to do what he sees Mom doing. You have a cleaning cloth in your hand, don’t you?

     “How did you know?”

     “Just one of those things,” I said, taking credit for what was really an easy guess. In my long homemaking career it’s been my habit to start dusting the moment I begin a telephone chat. Apparently this trait is being carried through the family tree.     


   “Don’t you use bibs?” I hazarded when visiting. The words came out of mouth before I could check them when I watched birthday cake crumbs not only fall from the high chair but fly off the tray like sand on a windy beach. 

     “Bibs don’t do much,” my daughter replied a little dolefully. “And I sweep the floor all day, anyway.”

     “No wonder he likes to play with your dust pan and broom,” I said, “and the little broom at my house, too." Then I encouraged her with, “Soon you’ll have helpers.”  

     There comes a time when a mother does have more than two hands.

     To a young child, play and work are one-and-the-same. Eventually children transition into being helpers. They learn to do what they may not always want to do. Picking up after themselves and doing small chores contributes to a child “a sense of belonging” in the family. The feeling of accomplishment and of making a difference is a good feeling. The feeling comes when Mom shows her appreciation. And she sure can use some help around the place.
     A mother can do a job better and in less time. There is not doubt about that. But the effort her child puts into a less-than-perfect job at the beginning, during the learning curve, can be acknowledged with a smile, a “thank-you” or “well done” even if crumbs are un-reached behind a table leg, a crayon rolls away and is broken under foot the next day, or a soap bubble or two clings to a rinsed dish in the drain.

“Work of any description adds to one’s happiness.” Grandma Moses

     This statement by Grandma Moses seems to be exemplified “in miniature” in two Golden Books of my collection. I had read them aloud often to my young children (ages 2-5). It's the age that children like hearing the same stories again and again. And the tender scenes and words found in these stories were ones I didn’t mind repeating. We Help Mommy by Jean Cushman is based on the author’s experience with her young children at home who spend the day helping her. The Martha and Bobby in the book are the names of her own children. 

     Illustrator Eloise Wilkin (1904-1987) painted pictures that charm me. By the stroke of her paintbrush she recreates Cute with a capital “C.” But it is also her portrayal of the joys of childhood, a young child’s wonder of nature, security of home, and love of family that attract me. I like her early American décor (her braided rugs, stenciled walls and Windsor chairs) and am swayed by how her characters dress – nice and tidy.

      Probably back in the day Eloise Wilkin’s illustrated (the mid-20th century) there was nothing remarkable about how she painted her mothers – that is – wearing skirts – both around the house and outdoors. Evidently to her, trousers were things worn by men.

     We Help Mommy is still in print, part of a collection of nine Golden Book favorites in one hardcover: Eloise Wilkin Stories.

      We Help Daddy by Mini Stein was another of our oft-read Golden Books. But it is left out of  Eloise Wilkin Stories. Perhaps it is the depiction of Daddy with a smoking pipe in his mouth, a pipe appearing in most of the scenes, that made the editors reluctant to include this story in the collection. Although out-of-print, used copies of the book may still be available.

     Children will become acquainted with helping out in the kitchen when the natural reward for their work is cookies – a treat. Peeling potatoes is not as glamorous. It isn’t as interesting as cutting cookie shapes. But when mashed potatoes are served on the table at supper, topped with a pat of butter melting on top, it is something to be proud of, too. When a teen, our Yolanda became a mashed potato expert.

A friend of mine would read aloud to her children as they surrounded the bed to fold several piles of clean clothes and towels. The clothes were folded before the chapter ended. Another mother relies on the hands of her big boys to unload the car when she pulls into the driveway with the week’s groceries. I’m certain you can come up with your own list of practical ways a child can be an amiable helper. In families where home life is the center of activity: learning, playing, working, worshiping – this is the surest setting for peace, purity and maturity.

summer 2012

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.” John Ruskin 

Discussion is Invited,
Karen Andreola  



  1. Ah, Eloise Wilkins books are some of my favorites for home decorating inspiration. Her rooms are serene, uncluttered, and wonderfully "low-tech". No big screen tvs to distract! So much wholesome goodness. Are our needs as human beings and families much different today? I don't think so.
    Thank you for your post, Karen. As always, a delight to read.

  2. A great post about children helping their parents!
    We often order our homeschool books through Rainbow Resource, I look forward to reading your reviews!


  3. Oh, how I love the old Golden Books. I have such precious memories of reading them to my sweet babes and look forward to reading them to my grandbabies to come. :) Karen, I wish you and Dean much success with your work for Rainbow Resources. Your reviews will certainly be a terrific addition to their already fine catalog! Hope you had a blessed Easter, ~Lisa :)

  4. Those are lovely and true thoughts about children imitating what we do. I love the old Golden Books, too. I was born in the mid-fifties, and all the mothers I knew when I was growing up, including my own dear late mother, did wear dresses most of the time. They always looked neat and well presented, as well. It wasn't until I was a teen that things began to change. When I visit my father's assisted living center, I notice that that generation still manages to look neatly put together even in their very old age.

  5. Those are sweet stories - I love the Eloise Wilkins ones! I'll have to look for the book with 7 stories in it and the We Help Daddy to read with my granddaughter.

    I also appreciate Rainbow Resource! I visit their booth at CHAP every year and come away with items that I need for the coming year! So happy to hear that you will be doing reviews for them!

    That Joseph is adorable! I agree with you that they learn as they play and become a true helper in the home!

    Blessings Karen!


  6. What a lovely post Miss Karen! I enjoyed reading it! I'm so glad to hear that your family will still be reviewing homeschool producs. Your reviews have been a blessing to me through the years and I am a big fan of Rainbow Resource. May the Lord bless your latest endeavors to minister to the homeschooling community.


  7. Oh the sweetness of little helping hands! My great-niece ironed ALL our cloth napkins one afternoon. She came in the kitchen and found the ironing board set up. She asked to iron, so I gave her a stack of four napkins. She finished them and asked for more again and again. At one point, I noticed her fingers were close enough to be burned by the steam. I cautioned her, to which she replied, "Yeah, I found that out a minute ago." There is nothing like experience... She honed her ironing skills that day and felt so very good about her accomplishment when we used the napkins at our next family meal.

    I have many fond memories of my daddy reading Eloise Wilkin's books to me as a child. Such gentleness and delight!


  8. Dear Karen and Dean,

    Your reviews have always been so helpful. I am so glad you will continue to write them! Our family also loves Rainbow Resource Center. May God bless your work with them!


  9. It is a wonderful thing when my children help. I am so thankful for their help, especially after dinner. Also, how wonderful that you will be with Rainbow Resources. I've been ordering from they for a few years now and I love them.

  10. Eloise Wilkin is a favorite around here!!! Great's challenging to me, especially in regards to my younger two...they need to some quality time helping mother more often!

    I'm so glad you found a home for your wealth of homeschooling knowledge! :)


  11. Oh, that Joseph! I had to go back and look at him once more. It brings back such sweet memories. Also, I was so disappointed when I got my newest CBD catalog today. It was not the same. I was so glad to read Dean's comments just now. I have not bought from R. Resource in many years (no special reason why). I will most definitely get back on their mailing list and thank them at our HS conference this weekend. Thank you, too, for the inspiring post on poetry! Claudia

  12. Oh my how your grand babies have grown!! You did s great job instituting a good work ethic for your girls and they are passing that on to the next generation. What a multi-generational blessing! I struggle with this area of parenting.

    Prayers for you both on this new journey!

  13. I could never run my home without my Mommy's Helpers. (At least I wouldn't want to try!) What sweet books.

  14. I've read We Help Mommy many, many times to my daughters, who are now too old for them. In fact, my older daughter is now a mother and I bought her a copy for her baby shower. Another of my favorites is Baby Dear. I've been collecting Eloise Wilkin books for the past few years and my daughters tease me about it. But they also contribute to my collection! I was given the storybook collection you showed for Christmas a few years ago. Mrs. Wilkin's interiors remind me of my grandmother's house, which probably explains why I like them. I have read We Help Daddy, but I don't own it . . . yet. ;-)

    Your grandsons are so adorable! And congratulations on your work with Rainbow Resource!

  15. I wore out the Eloise Wilkins Golden books when I was a child. I have so enjoyed reading them anew to my children. It's funny, but I Help Mommy has been my favorite and also my youngests. She asks me to read it to her very often. I have given the collection book as gifts and it is always so very well received. I think we all long for that simplier, sweeter, slower, more innocent time.

  16. Hello Ladies,

    Thank you for your well-wishes as we embark on our new venture with Rainbow. We are looking forward to attending the Harrisburg, PA conference in May for a "Meet & Greet" at the Rainbow booth.

    It is fun to find out that you, too, like the Little Golden Books, especially those illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.

    It is good to hear that you have "help around the place."
    Karen A.

  17. Oh how I wish we lived nearby so we could stop by and say hello in person! :) Best wishes to you and Dean! ~Lisa

  18. Karen,

    Need I say, I was smiling too when reading this about your daughter and grandson- dust cloth in hand and the wiping of walls!

    Ditto on the "I Help... books and the illustrations of Eloise Wilkins.

    I have a newly delivered Rainbow book in my pile even now. So pleased the LORD chose to answer your prayers in such a way.

    Have a joyful day!

  19. Hi Karen. What a lovely post. I wonder how many times I have read those two books. I will have to look for the all in one book for my grand momma's hopechest. Your grandson is such a little cutie. It has been such a blessing to me that I took the time to include my children in my daily work. I hope you are having a blessed day.
    Love, Heather

  20. I've been blessed by your reviews for many years. I look forward to following them through Rainbow Resource.



  21. Thank you so much for mentioning how to find "We Help Mommy"! I loved that as a child and have been searching for 2 years to find a copy for my daughter, as I know it is out of print! I am so happy about this!! Thanks again!

  22. I have just now found the time to read my new CBD catalog, looking forward to your reviews - alas, they were not there. Thanks to trusty google, I've been busy reading through your blog instead. Thank you for the gorgeous Lancaster Co pics - I grew up in southern lancaster co and love to take my children home to visit the farm where they can run, climb trees, ride their bikes on the side of the road and be outdoors for hours without worry that the neighbors are going to comment on something. I will now be checking out rainbow resource for my homeschool needs - thank you! And please keep the beautiful pics coming - we're moving to Germany and I'm afraid I may be a little homesick for my stomping grounds.