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Compared to my friends, I seem like a housemaid. I'm not sure if any of my friends help around their houses. For my labor, I receive $20 per week, whereas my friends only receive money from their parents for a particular purpose or items such as school supplies. If I am lazy, I don't get the money and am occasionally not allowed to go out with friends until I do what I'm supposed to do. Even though I hate chores, as I'm sure most people do, they have helped me become more responsible and mature. -- Marion Finocchiaro, Grossmont Middle College H.S.

A s much as I'm tempted to portray myself as a suffering slave to an evil stepmother and stepsisters, I have to admit that my life (at least regarding housework) is pretty much a walk in the park, a piece of cake, and any other cliché for easy. I don't have a stepmother, but my mom has always had minimal demands. Besides tidying our rooms, my younger sister and I began our introduction to housework with a weekend ritual. My sister was supposed to empty the trashcans in the house and I vacuumed. For these little chores, my parents paid us a few dollars a week (which was pretty much a joke, considering that they bought everything for us). These days, I usually do a bit more housework than my sister...and I've always helped her with her own chores. Yet, I don't think that I do an unreasonable amount of housework. I usually help a little with meals, dishes, laundry, and tidying of the kitchen and family rooms. My favorite chore is dusting bookshelves; I find immense satisfaction with eradicating dust from surfaces until I give myself an asthma attack. I now receive $20 a month in allowance, but my parents still pay for many things. I make a little spending money on my own from babysitting and writing articles.

Compared to my friends, my workload is probably average. I have some friends who complain when asked to lift a finger, but I know others who toil daily with cooking and cleaning. I'm impressed with the efforts of anyone who works more than me because, often, after school and homework, chores seem impossible.

I'm pretty much a disaster at keeping order, and my only hope for the future is either to make enough money to employ someone to maintain cleanliness in my living space or to marry someone adept at housework. Knowing my own difficulty with cleaning guilts me into helping my parents with daily chores because I will someday need a lot of help from my own family to keep my home livable. -- Megan Zapanta, El Capitan H.S.

L ooking back to when I received my first chore leads me to remember those dreaded words: "Lexie, can you sweep the walkway?" I know, I know, sweeping the walkway does not seem like a toilsome task, but when asked on a frequent basis to perform this duty, it is. (Maybe I was too good at it, which is why my younger brother got away with doing nothing.) I received no pay for my work, but at 11, 12, and 13, I did not have to pay for car insurance or gas, so it didn't bother me as much as it could have. At 13, taking the trash out every week earned me $5. If I didn't do it, I earned no money. These small tasks did not prepare me for the working world, but they did teach me about responsibility. Also, I have come to realize that cleaning creates a better living environment.

The help I lend around the house nowadays remains all voluntary, but not consistent. Occasionally, I put the dishes away, throw a load of laundry in, and tidy up around the house. I don't depend on my parents anymore for money because I realize how hard they work to earn it. -- Lexie Sebring, Carlsbad H.S.

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