Saturday, October 23, 2010

Child labor.

Scout Pack leaf-raking project this morning. Ambrose, smiling prankishly: "I'm not a Cub Scout anymore. I quit." But he didn't, he did a fine job, that is as long as I followed him around providing direction. Unsupervised, the paths of his own direction go outward and back again in jagged spikes. Sort of shaped like a leaf I guess, if you charted it.

Ezra hung over his rake idly dragging one leaf at a time through the grass into sad piles, his face drawn like a child with sooty cheeks chained to a machine. Lately he has dark circles under his eyes and a sullen cloud follows him. Unless he is playing piano, I have to give him that.

(Yeah that's one of those obnoxious comments that parents drop. "We don't understand it! Wendel just loves to play with fractals. And spend hours on the dulcimer. It's exasperating.")

I think the kids got the spirit of the event when I explained it: we were cleaning up the grounds outside the church because they donate space for popular events like the Pinewood Derby. But both boys still needed some help connecting that with the importance of putting in effort to actually get shit done.

"In Africa they walk two miles every morning to boil water and carry it back home, still boiling hot, on their heads. While carting their little brothers and sisters under each arm. And fending off bandits. Sometimes mom bandages the burns as a reward."

Ambrose stopped for several breaks. The Scoutmaster is generous and had brought coffee, juice and donut holes. Once I caught Ambrose with four of them in each fist, leaf shreds mingled with sprinkles and powdered sugar. Ezra still moaned and dragged. But Ambrose deserves credit for efficiency and self-discipline. Ultimately he really threw his whole self into the work.

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