The bad news? We’re not done, because after about seven hours the rented log-splitter broke.
After about six hours of trundling and stacking firewood my arms and shoulders feel very, very surprised. I expect tomorrow’s workday will be very challenging indeed, given that I make my living with my hands as well as my head.
Now I know why people had so many kids way back when: free labor.
Not that I worked any harder than anyone else. My niece and her two boys were there, and DF was unstoppable, feeding log after log into the splitter. We alternated tasks: bringing wood to him, loading the split pieces into a wagon or onto dollies, transporting the finished product across the yard to the shed and stacking the pieces as neatly as possible.
Ultimately I ended up doing most of the stacking. I always did love Tetris.
The value of work
After a few hours we took a short break for homemade iced tea and a sit-down in front of the fan. It was in the 70s (very warm for Anchorage) and relentlessly sunny. Although DF had climbed a mountain with his son the day before and covered at least 10 to 12 miles in the process, he was in his usual hard-working and cheerful mood.
“I’m splitting wood in the hot sun – I fought the log and the log won,” he sang as he walked inside.
For those of you too young to remember, he was riffing off an old song by Bobby Fuller. (Check that kah-razy gogo dancer in the background.)
By the time the splitter gave up the ghost we’d gone through more than a gallon of tea and four trays of ice cubes. Both boys worked quite hard; I was impressed by how strong they are at almost 7 and almost 12. Their mom kicked butt, too, and I struggled to keep up.
Why labor so hard? Because we’ll get a winter’s worth of lovely evenings by the fire, and because I want the boys to learn the value of work. Payment was not mentioned when their mom brought them over; the day was framed as “they need our help, so we’re going to help them.”
I did pay them, because I also want them to learn the value of being rewarded for hard work. But I couldn’t help sneaking in a moral: When you turn 14 and can look for a part-time job, then you can put DF down as a reference. He can vouch that you are a hard worker.
Yep, you can get working papers at 14 here. I happen to know that the McDonald’s about a mile from their house hires workers of that age. Legally they can’t work very many hours, especially during the school year. But I believe they need to get into the habit of working for what they want, both now (toys, movie tickets) and in the future (a car, college).
Work is the rent you pay for your spot on the planet. No time like the present to start putting together their down payments. I just hope their arms don’t hurt as much as mine.