Ever since my son could pretty much get around on his own, he has wanted to participate in the things I do around the house. And while it often takes twice if not three or four times longer for me to get those chores done with my helper, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Alexander has long been a companion of mine in shoveling the driveway, cutting the lawn, puttering around the garage, working on the pool, fixing various broken items, heading to Canadian Tire or Home Depot to pick up materials and tools, and, of course, putting up Christmas decorations.
The other day when I was putting the decorations on the roof, he wasn't satisfied with just handing me things through the window, but he wanted to come out and inspect the work I was doing on Santa's sleigh, reindeer and of course the new Santa ladder.
And that's the beautiful thing. The kid, although only 3, actually doesn't just fart around. he actually works and puts genuine effort into it. And if he's not a part of the actual serious work (rather than the pretend little "Joe jobs" I can invent to keep him occupied) he's not interested. God, I love his work ethic. It's truly inspiring.
I fail to understand parents who ship their kids off or banish them from the work area in order to get their work around the house done. Sure, it means your fifteen minute job will actually get done in fifteen minutes as opposed to forty minutes or maybe even two hours. But you deny yourself so much pleasure, so many great memories to cherish for your entire life. And you deny your children those same things too -- never mind a sense of self esteem and the chance to learn by doing.
When I was young I didn't get many chances to work around the house with my father. It wasn't because he wanted me out of his way (although there was a bit of a sense of it since I recall one of his favourite sayings was "get out of my road") -- it seemed more geared along the line of: "You're a kid, go out and play and have fun -- you'll be working the rest of your life - enjoy the playing now." However, those few occasions where we shoveled the driveway together, BBQ'd together, worked on wood crafting, or even wrapped my Mom's Christmas gifts, particularly the annual "joke surprise" Christmas gift that he worked so hard on each year, are among the finest and sweetest memories I have of him.
So this week I'm counting my little helper and the fact that while it seems like I'm teaching him things while working on tasks, he's actually the one teaching me how to enjoy the moment -- all those moments -- and properly bask in them.