Sunday, March 2, 2014

SaHD Chronicles #2 - "Heirlooms and Stories of Happy Work"

When asked about being a SaHD (stay at home dad) I honestly have to say it is the best job I have ever had. Truth be told, being a dad is the one thing I know have always wanted to be, even since youth. And here is where Paul Harvey would say is the rest of the story.

My children sort of show me up when it comes to that whole wanting to do work around the house thing. And you hear from parents of older children the joke that children want to be helpful until they turn that age when they really can be, but really, I that joke sort of misses the point. The heart of my children to want to do work is more important than the pragmatic value of their efforts -- that is, their heart is more important than their output or ability to produce.

My son is four, and he likes to help with loading and unloading the dishwasher; my daughter is seven and a half and does so much I often worry I ask too much of her; both fight over taking out the recycling.

Is it just a matter of empowerment to deal with their world, or just a matter of imitating dad and trying to approximate a similar efficacy and identity? I think it is more, it almost has to be.

But let me tell a story...

I have a younger friend who is going to have a baby, and I am both giving some baby furniture and loaning our high chair to this friend. The high chair is a special gift from a set of friends of my wife, some old roommates from college. These are those special sorts of friends that define a period of life and knew my wife in a real, and intimate way. So that they got together and pooled resources and had a baby shower and gave this high chair to us, well, it makes it pretty special. Not to mention it had been used by both my children.

But I had never cleaned this high chair (not really beyond the surface of the seat and top of tray), and had stored it in the garage (which was bug-bombed repeatedly after a flea-explosion of black plague like level).

Yet, somehow, as I was cleaning this thing off, getting a soapy sponge into every nook and cranny, from every angle, I found a certain happiness in doing the task which, well, was down right child-like. I mean, it was like I was seven year old child happy to do a task, and I was wanting to do it so well I was pouting myself into it, getting every possible square centimeter of it cleaned. It was fun, and it was a happy work.

In the midst of this simple task it dawned on me that I wanted this high chair to be loaned out not only to this friend but to others, to friends as close to my family as college roommates had been to my wife. I wanted my children to know, when they came to receive this high chair for use with their children, that it had been infused with the value of having been fitted into a story of many stories and lives. I wanted to pass on the chair telling my children, "oh, and it was used by so and so, and then by so and so..." and so on and so on. Admittedly part of it I was wanting this happiness I felt in cleaning it to be attached to physical chair, as if a quality no less real than its physical form or durability or color or composition.

Now this is the thing about good stories: you can tell them and let the listener draw their own conclusions.