Why is it that when work has an element of joy it isn’t work at all, but when you remove the joy, the same work that was once a delight becomes a chore?
Take laundry. Please.
There are three grands in the playhouse in the backyard when one of them announces they have spilled on the tablecloth.
She had a vested interest in the tablecloth; she helped sew it. They can all sew a straight line, which means they are now on a skill level with their grandma.
“Can I wash this?”
“You want to do laundry?”
The concept is foreign to me.
“Yes, the old way.”
“You mean a top-load machine?”
“You mean a wringer washer?”
A blank stare.
“The old way. Like on the prairie.”
I returned from the house with an old washboard that hangs over the washer and dryer.
She is delighted. Thrilled. Ecstatic. Who doesn’t jump up and down at the prospect of scrubbing something out by hand with a tub of cold sudsy water and an old washboard?
So, there she is going to town with the tablecloth and the washboard, having a wonderful time, and I am having a wonderful time sitting in the shade watching her work. That’s probably one of my favorite elements of work – watching someone else on task.
My very favorite element of work is listening to someone else vacuum. Music to my soul.
There’s a pattern here, isn’t there?
She finishes the tablecloth and announces her dress needs washing. She dashes to the house to put on some old clothes from the “emergency” drawer and begins washing her dress.
Her sister announces that her dress needs washing, too.
The desire to work has now grown contagious. If only we could package and market this fervor.
Another sister announces she wants to wash something the old way, but must be in costume. She dashes inside and returns wearing a long dress, a straw hat and an apron that belongs to Raggedy Ann.
They have all had turns at the washboard and announce they need to dry their wet things.
“Just throw them over the chairs on the patio,” I say.
“Don’t you have rope and those pincher things?”
Isn’t that how it goes? You sanction cutting corners and someone wants to go for authenticity.
We string the rope from one end of the hammock frame to another and voila, a portable clothesline.
Their dripping wet articles flap in the breeze and they push the hammock around the yard to follow the sun.
Later that night I retrieve their things from the clothesline. The small tablecloth and little dresses are stiff, as are most things that dry in the wind.
At 10 p.m., I push a few buttons on the washing machine and toss their tiny things in with a load of towels.
It’s not a chore; it’s a delight.