Boys 2 Men

I take every opportunity to involve my children in physical work. Not only is it one of my important family values, but because more work for them means less work for me. I also have the vision in a far distant future of a daughter-in-law voicing appreciation that my diligence was not all futile.

But for now, my base motivation is sharing the drudgery!

I once thought I could state the problem, "The walk needs shoveled." and that would be it. It would magically be complete. Not long after, I realized that with literal-minded children, there must be further direction, so I added, "Start as soon as you get home."

I defuse the obvious incoming bomb by assuring that the task is universal, "and involve your brother when he gets home."

This will at least assure that some sort of sibling altercation will ensue, and with luck, the anger and frustration will be expended on the icy walk.

When I get home an hour later and see no progress, I advance the process, "Off the computer, back outside, and no coming in until it's finished."

Really, the only way to effect change is to join the masses as an example. It stinks, but it seems to be the only thing that works. It is much easier to do it myself, but that's not an option.

So I join them and begin the subtle manipulation. Chop, chop, chop. I echo their frustration, "I wish we didn't have to do this." Scrape, scrape, as I move to encouragement, "I'm surprised this is coming off this easy. " I express cooperation, "You lift and I think I can slide this under." And I move to competition, "I'm impressed that you have done so much." I expend more enthusiasm, "Way to go! Wow, look what we've done! And as we finish, the ultimate pay-off, "So what do you think this is worth, in monetary terms?"

Unfortunately, I don't expect that employers will expend this kind of energy to extract my level of work ethic, so I will begin the weaning... and someday soon, I hope that the words, "The walk needs work," will be enough.

Meanwhile, I reaffirm the comment I yelled across to the neighbor, "We're not chopping ice, We're raising men."