MY TURN: A workday worth its weight in gold

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The byline really should read “Bud Kirvan,” my late father who some 30 years ago wrote a column about an assignment I had given him. The fact that a son would give a father an “assignment” is worth a column itself, but that was only part of the story that unfolded.

The plot line of his column revolved around my then 5-year-old son, who at the time had an off day from the rigors of kindergarten. His day off turned into a workday for my father, who was pressed into “babysitting” duty when all other options were exhausted. Here’s his take on the experience.

A number of years ago in another city, an editor of this column, who lived just a few miles away, called to say that some fresh work was needed.

“You have been lazy long enough,” was the way he prompted me to hit the keyboard with some vigor.

A few minutes later his bespectacled 5-year-old son arrived, probably charged to help with the assignment.

My little friend, who just happened to be a blood relative, came tapping at the door about an hour before deadline and sat down with me at the breakfast table. Who can resist a broad smile expressing love and trust?

“Would you like some breakfast?”

“No thank you,” he replied.

“Some juice?”

A shake of the head.

“What would you like?”

“Let’s go to the park and play ball,” he exclaimed.

By 9 o’clock we had returned from the park with numb fingers and two cold ears, all of them mine, and the little fellow had a “what can we do now?” look written all over his face.
Stalling for time and a bit more of the heat emanating from a floor vent, I said: “I need to go to the dry cleaners, so perhaps we could stop at the dairy next door for a doughnut.” This prompted an even bigger smile.

Two doughnuts and a glass of apple juice later, time was hanging heavy on his hands and all I could think about was my full tummy and the admonition from his editor-father.
I got as far as the typewriter before he asked: “Can I use your typewriter?”

He settled for a desk pen and pad instead, proceeding to scribble furiously for the next five minutes before he was ready for a change of scenery.

“I want to saw some boxes,” he said.

A dull saw and a corrugated box were found and the rasping sound began in earnest, echoing throughout the basement.

Several minutes later, I heard a little voice say, “Let’s go play!”

It wasn’t much warmer as the wind was still coming out of the northeast and this game of toss-and-miss proved to be even shorter than the first version. Once more a retreat to home and hearth was in order.

“I’m hungry,” he declared.

By this time I was feeling roly-poly and in need of a nap. I found a cartoon series on TV and the young lad appeared to be completely absorbed until I stretched out on the sofa.
“Let’s go saw some more boxes,” he bellowed.

I didn’t want to saw boxes; I was quite certain of that.

But “saw” we did. Then it was time to hammer. After that came the inevitable question:

“What can we do next?”

“I need to do some work,” I stated.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“You’ve already helped, kiddo. It's almost dinnertime. Your father will be expecting you soon.”

“Okay,” he said with a big smile. “We did lots of work.”

I smiled. He smiled back. We hugged.

How can I be exhausted? All I have to show for my efforts are wadded pages of typing paper; several shredded cartons; a couple of sore thumbs; a well-scribbled, stapled and
taped desk pad; and a stomach ache. Oh, yes, and the memory of a loving, trusting smile.

Come to think of it, not a bad day’s work. Not bad at all.
 

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