Tag Archive: Chores


Naalehu, HI. – A senior lady would come every other day to pick up the cardboard trash at the local grocery store Island Market. What was unusual, she used a brand new shinny red Ford F-150 Ford truck; my curiosity was awakened.

My wife Amy and I opened a grocery and convenience store, called Wiki-Wiki Mart – Union 76, two blocks away from Island Market.  When our trash and recycling service provider stopped I asked the lady to take over the service, so Sue Barnett, started taking care of our trash and recycling service; she was punctual and did a very good job for us.  I had to remind her to cash her monthly checks; there were four months of checks outstanding.  She was donating her checks to Naalehu Main Street a local non-profit group. The group told Sue it was “not worth the hassle to them” as they were phasing out of their group.  Sue finally cashed her checks.  This intriguing women worked very hard, then gave her money away.

After couple of years, Sue comes to the store with another new red Ford F-150 truck, wow,  how does this lady survive; giving away her income and buying another new truck.  So my curiosity peaked.  Finally, I ask her about her prior occupation; she said she was a retired veterinarian; wow, now it made sense.  She was taking the cardboard and making mulch for resale. Sue was always busy and very resourceful.  She donated her time once a month to neuter cats and dogs in the community; a very caring and giving person who shared her skills freely and with much compassion and aloha. One day she came to the store with a large “Black and Blue” mark on her thigh, she said a donkey bit her, then remarking how painful that was… yikes, I guess after a life long career she was used to those kind of rare experiences.

Now wanting to find out how she became so diligent I asked her if I could meet her for breakfast and listen to how she was raised by the parents; her story would be shared with http://www.Startsathome.org. She said yes and I waited with baited breath to hear her story.

She explained she did not come from a rich family and her parents had to work hard to put food on the table. Sue said “if you want something you have to work”  Her mom said if you want a comic you have to work. So the mom would send them into the neighborhood to pick up trash and she’d pay them five (5) cents for a bag of trash or pull weeds around the house. “So when you got what you wanted you’d appreciate it a lot more.”  She’s concerned about “today’s kids who feels that they are entitled to what they want and not investing the time to get it or stealing instead of working.”

An interesting comment she mentioned is “the’re kids that are born poor and die poor and there are kids that are born rich and die poor” She believes and a strong work ethics keeps people out of poverty. She appreciated her mom keeping her goals realistic and can remember wanting a pony and her mom said that’s too much money. “Having realistic goals can help and will encourage success”. She also sees that when people are not successful and give up could commit suicide. Sue says “we should learn from our failures, it’s the best teacher.  So get up and get going.”

Sue went to a local college with the scholarships she earned, then worked her way through graduate school.  She doesn’t like to be called doctor or use her professional designation as VMD.  She said those titles a not important as they cause to much “one up-man-ship”.  The community has come to know her as Aunty Sue.  Thank you Aunty Sue.

Written by Carl Okuyama

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Here Come #3 Child

Mom a few week’s before giving birth to Justin. Kimberly 3 years old, Jeffrey 2 years old, and Justin coming soon.

The year was 1983, Amy is at the Hilo Hospital and she just gave birth to Justin, our third child. Kimberly was three years old and Jeffrey two years old, they both were eager to visit mom and their new brother.  Like the saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”, before leaving for the hospital I asked the children, “we’re going to visit your brother, the poor guy has no teeth, no toys, and some clothes; do you think you can share and help him?”  Jeffrey and Kimberly quickly noded with a smile and said “yes”, Kimberly handed over a toy and said “he can have this”.  This was one way to plant seeds for a helpful and sharing family.

It’s now 2015, thirty-three (33) years have passed and Kimberly, RN worked at Queen’s Hospital’s Trauma Center of the Pacific, and Queen’s Mililani Emergency, she and her husband Christian just had their second child his name Cody.  Although time has changed the spirit of helping and sharing has carried on.  Now, her daughter Andee who just made three years old, in the name of building and helpful family is being promoted to a new and very important job – Mommy Helper. Congratulations Christian and Kimberly, you’re great parents.

cody and Andee first kiss

Andee gives Cody her first kiss, she’s been waiting for this day for months.

Teach sharing and helping others.  It’s good to facilitate the concept of “ours” verses “all mine”.  “All mine” promotes selfishness, egotism, and a may foster a bully in our mists.  A challenge for an informed parent is knowing the concept of siblings not wanting to share their mommy or daddy when new siblings are born, this can pose a challenge as the earlier born children doesn’t want to loose or share the attention of their parents to the new baby.  A suggestion would be mom or dad asking the children to be a Mommy or Daddy Helper, to help with small chores that give children the  opportunity to be with their parents and be complimented and encouraged.

These chores are performed together with the older child, newborn, and parent. This may take the form of helping change the baby’s clothes, feeding the baby, giving a bath, pushing the stroller, changing the diapers, going shopping, or other family chores together.  When showing the newborn to family and friends, you can keep the older child in the conversation by asking “Andee, uncle Justin wants to know how much did Cody weigh at birth?” Keep giving the children the attention they shared before the the newborn arrived. Keep up the great job you’re doing!

By Carl Okuyama

Andee's smile says it all.  Andee is now a Mommy Helper.  Yay!!!

Andee’s smile says it all. Andee is now a #MommyHelper and #DaddyHelper. Yay!!!

I'm not doing that!

I’m not doing that!

Training children is about age appropriate education.  Parents do not intentionally spoil or overindulge their children, however children who are overindulged may become spoiled by  caring and unknowing parents. This message is not directed to toddlers under the age of three who are  learning about boundaries set by caring parents; if you experience tantrums by a toddler this is a normal behavioral transition from infant to toddler.  The future favors prepared parents and children,  in this light we share with you important lessons on chores, work ethics, and overindulged children.

Have you heard the saying “the kid is going to be a spoiled brat”? The daughter of singer, Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley says, “I was quite the spoiled brat. I have quite a temper, obviously inherited from my father, and I became very good at ordering everyone around. I was the princess; the staff were absolutely terrified of me.

Also, you may have seen a  young boy having a tantrum, screaming, crying in the department store as a means to get something, with everyone watching, the parent “gives in” and the child gets want he wants; who’s training who?

Contrarily, “daddy made sure to instill in us a work ethic” – Kathie Lee Gifford, Hostess, NBC’s Today’s Show.

Amy Nishi-Kessinger

Having chores helped Amy become a productive person throughout her life.

Chores do work for the benefit of children.  My wife Amy Lou Kessinger’s early years were with an abusive alcoholic father, and her parents subsequently divorced.  Fortunately her mom was loving, nurturing, and strict, and didn’t enable or spoil her daughter.  Amy’s mom was ill for many years, so while they lived with Amy’s grandmother,  Amy became a young care giver to her mom to help in the household and with her two younger sisters.  Life was good and there were many necessary chores.  The four of them (Emiko, Karen, Sharon, and Amy) lived in a small bedroom at their uncle George Nishi’s home. They received financial help from the welfare system.  Another person who influenced Amy’s life was Pastor Davis from Kinoole Baptist Church in Hilo, who picked her up and took her to church every Sunday for three to four years.

Thank God, due to her mother’s insistence, Amy studied hard and was a good student who received work-study grants to complete her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Whether a child earns a degree or not, the important point is having a good work ethic will lead to a successful path and life.

One funny example of Amy’s mother’s traditional values, is her grounding us one month before our wedding, because we came home after Amy’s curfew.  We couldn’t date, while Amy stayed home to complete sewing her four bridesmaid’s dresses and tend to other wedding details.  We have been married over thirty-nine years, thank you Mrs. Kessinger.  While Amy’s upbringing is from two generations ago, it still holds true today: productive, responsible adults had parents who instilled in them good work ethics by giving them chores to do and rules to follow.

Tani Katada-Freitas a friend and contributing writer of Starts at Home shares how she had a part in teaching her ten children about chores, beginning after the age of two (2).  An important household rule was:  “No Chores, No Dessert” a simple rule.  If the children didn’t finish their dinner it was bed time, and the uneaten dinner was put into the refrigerator to be served for breakfast.  If the children were hungry later in the evening, Tani was sympathetic, but explained, “Sorry, but dinner time is over, you’ll have to wait till breakfast”.  Each child helped with cleaning the dishes and kitchen after every meal, and there were lots of other chores for them to do around the house.

Here are some suggested chores for toddlers to help them develop good work ethics

  • Putting away their toys after play time.
  • Helping parents with their chores around the home.
  • Helping clean up the dishes and kitchen after meals with their leading parents.
  • Helping set the dinner table, dishes or cups or both, keeping it simple.
  • Making the bed in the morning.
  • Feeding the pets and reminding their parents if more pet food is needed.
  • Brushing their teeth in the morning and evenings before bed.
  • Helping the teacher in school, church, or other organization.
  • Helping clean the house windows, sweeping and vacuuming the floors.
  • Helping their parents on their weekly chores.
  • Having homework time and checking their work for correctness.

Encouraging Actions and Words to Enforce their Chores.

  • Wow Johnny your bed looks well made, great job!
  • Remembering to compliment for doing something well.
  • Chore charting with rewards chart stickers.
  • Have a big prize after achieving a longer term goal

Many Times Parents Don’t Realized these Actions Contribute to a Spoiled and Narcissistic Child who is Self Centered.

  • Never saying “no” to the a child and let them have whatever they want, because “it’s easier”.
  • Make them feel they’re always the center of attention and center of the universe.
  • Not asking them to share with other children.
  • Never receives spanking, timeouts, and other forms of discipline.
  • Allowing the child to boss, hit or bully other children and adults.
  • Allowed to them watch TV while others are required to clean up and do chores.
  • Pampering a child to be always so cute and pretty and not teaching chores, social skills, and following up with school homework.

Life will be good for children when they are raised and trained using chores, encouragement, and obedience.  Amy and I recommend parents find a church with a Sunday preschool program as a church will help instill good spiritual and moral values as well as educational fundamentals in children.  From this will come good relationships at home, with friends, and the community as good work ethic in the marketplace. Have fun and enjoy the children, it starts at home.

On the Web:  Narcissism – Psychology Today

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The Planting Twos learning and remembering at genius speed

Photo by Kimberly Okuyama

Last month on their way to the airport, Amy said to our granddaughter Andee, “Grandma is going home to the Big Island”.  A few times since then, Andee has mentioned to her mother Kimberly, “gamma big island”.  Much to both Amy and Kimberly’s surprise,  Andee started using the words “Big Island” after hearing them only once.  Amy knows she had said “Big Island” to Andee only once during her stay in Honolulu; Kimberly never mentioned big island before.  Wow, kids at the age of two learn at tremendous speeds, a time period in early childhood I refer to as the “Planting Twos”.  What we say, do, and teach during this period will greatly impact their personalities, intelligence, and social life.

The “Planting Twos” is a wonderful time before preschool to teach about God, social morals, health and wellness, reading, music, science, mathematics, sports, obedience, kindness, sharing, caring for others, chores and rewards.  The Planting Twos are the golden teaching years in early childhood development.

These wonderful years are academically described by Barbara Rogoff, in her book The Apprenticeship of Thinking: Cognitive Development in Social Context.  The book is about guided participation by children and their companions. Barbara Rogoff is UC Santa Cruz Foundation Distinguished Professor of Psychology. Barbara Rogoff has held the University of California Presidential Chair and has been a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a Kellogg Fellow, a Spencer Fellow, and an Osher Fellow of the Exploratorium.

By Carl Okuyama