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Parenting Perspectives: Cleaning makes men out of boys

It's the unexpected actions that seem to mean the most when you're a parent, isn't it?

The moments when your kids shock you because they didn't fight, or they did what you asked, or when they spend an entire day with you doing spring cleaning ... and they do so with minimal drama.

The kids knew it was coming. I'd been warning them for weeks that we were going to attack the garage, the closets and the deepest recesses of the basement ... all of the places where four years of living had accumulated.

So Saturday night I broke the big news: Sunday would be the spring cleaning day to end all spring cleaning days.

And then I braced for the blowback. Surprisingly, however, it didn't come.

It's possible they just didn't believe that Dad was finally going to get this project done, but they reacted with only minor protestations. There wasn't any of the usual fussing, pouting or fighting that would sour a major project such as this before it started.

And even Sunday morning when I fired up everyone to get moving, there was little grumbling and mostly cooperation.

Well, OK, as the day wore on there were some minor disputes between the boys, but honestly, would they be siblings if they weren't fighting a bit? One always does more work than the other one, and usually does it quicker or requires Dad to ask fewer times, right?

Ultimately though, the kids worked hard, and they did so with smiles on their faces. And I couldn't have accomplished by myself what we finished together.

The Bug, my youngest son, was instrumental in doing many of the trivial tasks that take up so much time when you're cleaning: the running for items or picking up this or organizing that or serving as garbage patrol.

And Garrett was a workhorse, hauling heavy boxes headed for charity to the garage and the rest of the crud to the boulevard to be hauled away.

The Bug saved me a lot of time, and Garrett did the work that my back isn't good for anymore. They truly worked beyond their ages for 11 hours.

And what makes it so pleasant was how they approached it: They worked hard and caused me very little extra stress.

You know, you get so used to the trivial fighting, whining, name-calling, etc., that it's easy to sometimes forget that your kids can bring you joy, too. And as I laid my aching bones down for bed Sunday night, I thought: Man, I am raising some fine, young men.

Thanks, guys. Thanks for making me proud ... again.

Devlyn Brooks works for Forum Communications Co. He lives in Moorhead

with his two sons.