Chores and Jobs

Chores — the Girl unloads the dishwasher, the Boy sorts the silverware. Today, though, the Girl was in a hurry for him to finish so they could watch a little after-breakfast TV, so she was insistent on helping him. He, however, would have none of it.

“L, that’s my job!”

The more restless she grew, the more insistent he became. I stood there watching, intervening as little as possible, a few disparate thoughts running about in my mind.

  1. The Boy is clearly proud of what he’s doing and that it’s his established job. He doesn’t have a lot of responsibilities yet, and often his help, as cute as it is, is more trouble than help. This is one of the things he can do that actually is very helpful. I think he senses that and is proud of contributing to the family.
  2. He has a totally different outlook on work than the Girl. For her, chores are just that: something that must be done, something that is as inescapable as unenjoyable. The Boy, though, loves helping, loves working, loves getting involved. He plays at work: he digs in the back yard, pretends to mow, conducts culinary experiments on the small counter top beside the stove as we cook (which usually involves mixing random things from the fridge).
  3. Sometimes help comes from less-than-perfectly-altruistic motives. Sure, the end result was fine: the Girl wanted to help the Boy. But why? Still, that she finished her job and then wanted to help with his — that’s something.
  4. The thought of having my job (singular) is enviable for a lot of adults, I think — and I’m including myself in that “a lot of”. So there’s an irony: kids look forward to being adults, and adults often look back wistfully at childhood. The truly happy individual is the one always happy where she is.

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