Garden work and the magic of friends
"I'm too lazy!" is the answer when I asked my oldest, almost 10, to help with yard work. Occasionally he'll be overcome by a project and lift and dig and plot with me for a while -- maybe a half hour or an hour if I'm crazy-lucky. He's certainly not lazy; his idea of after-school relaxation is to run around and around the house playfighting with his brothers. He once rollerskated seven miles in an afternoon. He can bike anywhere I can.
But, when it comes to repetitive, back-breaking, dirty drudgery, he's just not my guy.
Until, that is, we went over to a friend's house yesterday for a garden remaking. We missed out on the hardest part; slaughtering blackberry vines (though I got to stuff some in the chipper for an hour or so, ridiculously satisfying work), but immediately when he arrived he joined a band of several kids about his age whose task it was to help shovel, carry and distribute wood chips and lay the cardboard beneath it to cover the grass and weeds.
Not only did he work the whole afternoon -- nearly six hours -- he rallied the team uncomplainingly, vigorously leading the effort with an older girl. Oh, he did complain; when we left to take him to a birthday party. "I want to WORK moooorrrrre..." he whined as we biked away.
I was thrilled, and asked if he'd do this sort of thing at home. "I'd rather do it with friends," he said. It was great to see and also a reminder that work is easier and even fun as a troop. I really wish I had more opportunity to schedule work parties (though I'm shy of inviting other kids over with the intention of making them shovel and carry). I have done what I think is a fair job of getting my kids involved in cooking and cleaning their room and helping with laundry, but it's mostly the younger two; this was a great realization that the oldest had his amazingly hot hot button.
I'm not quite sure how to put it into practice, though. Have you found a great way to get your kids to do heavy, hard work? Do you want to send your kids over next weekend for a garden "party"? Kidding... maybe.