Friday, August 18, 2017

A Carton of Eggs, a Gallon of Milk, and a Scoop of Poop: Quality Time with My Daughter

A couple of years ago I started occasionally helping my friends Bob and Sheri on their farm. I learned to milk cows, take care of their chickens, and do all of the fun things that take place on a small farm in the morning. For the past several years, when they were out of town and needed somebody to take care of the critters, I jumped in whenever I could. It is something that I really enjoy, and it keeps me on my toes, since the only thing constant on a farm is change.

Two weeks ago, Bob and Sheri asked me to milk for the weekend. My two girls were in the play Annie, school was getting ready to start, and I was in the middle of a sizeable flooring project. It was quite hectic around the house. Nevertheless, I jumped at the opportunity to work at the farm.

Then my nine-year-old asked me if she could help. My initial response was to tell her that she needed to sleep in (and I use the term "sleeping in" very loosely, since my kids are almost always awake by 6:00). I needed to leave the house by 5 a.m., and I didn't think that Big E would be able to handle this on top of everything else that was going on. But the softie in me said that this would be a great Daddy-Daughter memory, and I told her that she could help me one of the days. I woke her up at 4:45, asked her to get dressed (and found out that she slept with her clothes under her pajamas so she would be ready more quickly), and we headed out.

Big E helped get the cows ready to milk. She carried their food. She scooped the poop from the pastures. She fed and watered the chickens and checked for eggs. And not once did she complain. It was hot and humid, even at 5:30 in the morning. There was a rain storm the night before, so everything was muddy. And yet she kept a smile on her face all morning.

As we were cleaning up, and then driving home, we started talking about the time on the farm and her experience. She expressed her desire to someday live on a farm and have horses and cows and chickens. Her face lit up as she dreamed her wonderful nine-year-old dreams.

And I thought to myself, "Am I Tom Sawyer? Did I just dupe my child into doing work by making her think that it was fun?" I don't think that I tricked her, but I do think that I showed her how much fun the work is because of my enthusiasm. And my enthusiasm was even greater because of the one-on-one time that I got to spend with my daughter in the midst of an extremely busy time in our house. I love taking my kids on dates and spending time with them. But for Big E, spending time scooping poop with daddy was just as great as a date.

Do you think it will work if I pretend like I really enjoy folding their laundry and make that a date?