Cleaning the Grown-Up Way

By Linda Porter Carlyle

MacKenzie Isabelle Evans felt like stamping her feet. She took a deep breath instead. “Are you sure I can’t go outside and play?” she asked.

“No,” Mom answered patiently. “I really need you to help me.”

Mac sighed. Growing up was hard even though there were so many good things about it. Like learning to drive a car someday so she could go to the mall all by herself. And staying up later at night. But there were drawbacks about growing up too. If she were still three years old, Mom would not expect her to help clean house. If she were three years old, she would not have to clean out the pantry on a perfect-for-being-outside day!

“What do I have to do?” Mac asked with a sigh.

“Here’s an idea,” Mom answered. “Why don’t you look around and do whatever you see that needs to be done. That’s a more grown-up approach,” she added with a twinkle in her eye.

Mac frowned. That sounded even harder than just doing whatever Mom told her to do. She turned on the light in the pantry. Cans of food, jars of food, and boxes of food sat on the shelves. What should she do first?

Mac took a closer look. The cans did not seem to be in any kind of order. A can of corn sat on top of a can of tomato soup. A little can of chopped chilies was stacked on a can of pumpkin pie filling. Mac grinned to herself. Pumpkin pie with chilies. What an awful combination! Maybe the first thing she should do would be to put the cans of vegetables in one place and the cans of fruit in another—just like at the grocery store.

Mac carefully removed all the cans of food from the two bottom shelves and set them on the floor. Then she noticed that the shelves were dusty. Mom would probably think she should wipe them off with a damp rag. Mac went to find one she could use.

After the shelves were wiped and the cans put back in order with all the labels facing her, Mac stepped back to admire her work. Those two shelves looked great! If Mom wanted a can of vegetables, she could look on the left side of the pantry. If she wanted a can of fruit, she could look on the right side. Now what was next?

Mac looked at the floor. Bags of potatoes and baskets of walnuts still in their shells sat beside a big white plastic bucket of flour. Mac moved the bucket of flour. Just as she suspected. Dust balls were hiding behind it. She was tempted to just sweep the part of the floor that could be seen without moving anything. But she knew quite well that was not a grown-up approach to cleaning.

Mac dragged all the bags, baskets, and plastic containers out of the pantry and went to get the broom and the dustpan. She swept carefully, even in the corners. Then she put everything back again in its place.

“How’s it going?” Mom asked, coming into the kitchen.

Mac straightened up. She pushed her curls up off her forehead. “Come and see,” she invited.

Mom put her hands on Mac’s shoulders and looked over her head into the pantry. “Wow!” she exclaimed. “Those two lower shelves and the floor look great! It really makes the top shelves look even more disorganized,” she added.

Mac sighed. “I haven’t gotten to them yet,” she said.

Mom laughed. “Well, I am very impressed with what you have done. Why don’t you take a break? Go outside and get some fresh air.”

Mom paused. Then she went on. “You know, you have done such a good job cleaning and organizing in here, it gives me an idea. Yesterday when I was at the library, Mrs. Samuels told me she could really use another volunteer to help her for two or three hours a week. She said she was considering a child volunteer. A child who could help her arrange displays of books that would catch other kids’ attention and tempt them to read. She asked if I knew of anyone who might be interested.” Mom looked at Mac. “Do you know anyone?”

Mac stared up at Mom. Her eyes sparkled with excitement. “Me!” she exclaimed. “I could do it! That would be really fun! I love books! I love the library! I would make a terrific volunteer!”

Mom grinned at Mac. She looked into the pantry again. “It seems to me that, based upon the kind of work you’ve done today, I could recommend you,” she said.

“Yippee!” Mac shouted. “Will you call Mrs. Samuels right now?”


Do you like to make things clean and orderly? Who in your Sabbath School lesson was faithful in his job like Mac was faithful cleaning the pantry? The Bible tells us that Jesus wants us to be good workers. It also tells us that Jesus is glad to give us the power to do what He asks us to do. (Look at page 16 for the room-cleaning ideas my mother gave me.)—Love, Mrs. Sox

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