Family work bonding creates resentments

CHILD LABOR EXPLOITATION - Although adults vehemently deny it, all children recognize the only reason their parents decided to reproduce was to save money on hiring out crappy jobs, which can instead be ofted onto their offspring.

CHILD LABOR EXPLOITATION – Although adults vehemently deny it, all children recognize the only reason their parents reproduced was to save money on hiring out crappy jobs, which can instead be ofted onto their offspring.

If my farmer dad were still alive, he would have just turned 82. My guess is he would still be working because he was wired to be tireless when it came to work.
What is work, anyway? It’s defined as a job, a form of labor, a duty, a deed or an accomplishment. By those standards, my father was a highly accomplished man, for all he ever did was work.
Surprisingly, Dad never complained about working. Sure, he might cuss about the #%*@! cattle that foolishly broke out of green pastures to get into the neighbor’s wheat stubble or say a few choice words about the ever-increasing price of binder twine during hay baling season, but he never complained while fixing fence or baling hay. He’d whistle cheerfully.
My older sister and I did enough work complaining to make up for it. Because we wanted to avoid getting backhanded into tomorrow, we never complained directly to our father, but to our mother. We indirectly blamed her because she’d married and reproduced with him. But mostly we complained bitterly to one another the whole time we worked, which made things worse.
“It’s your turn to go to the truck for insulators,” my sister would snarl at me.
“Well, I can’t drive the truck ahead to where dad is working,” I’d snarl back.
“It’s not my fault you’re too short and stupid,” she’d reply. So I’d throw a rock at her, putting yet another dent in the tailgate of the old red farm truck. Meanwhile, Dad was bent over, wire pliers in his mouth, waiting for an insulator to wind the electric fencing around.
“Just give me a #%*@! insulator,” he would shout. “Better yet, bring me the whole #%*@! box of them. Don’t make me step in or you won’t like it.”
We weren’t liking much of anything about fence building. Seems like we were either baking like raisins in the sun or being eaten to death by mosquitos. He barely noticed because even the most determined couldn’t penetrate the thick hair on his arms.
There was no such thing as a water break because Dad never brought along water. It’s probably a good thing because he wasn’t big on bathroom breaks, either. Which is also good because someone who doesn’t carry water is doubly unlikely to carry along a roll of toilet paper. If dad had to go, he’d just slip off behind a tree or go behind the truck. We girls had to turn a deaf ear to nature’s call, which made trudging back to the truck for insulators even worse.
I recalled those happy family/work bonding times recently when I rounded up my son to weed- whack. I’d wanted to do it myself because I find it satisfying, but the evil eight-foot hedge required a step-ladder-aided trim, so I delegated the easier job to my son.
“I don’t want to. It’s too hot. This is too heavy. And it’ll take too long,” he informed.
“Wait, aren’t you the guy who weight-lifts and attends sports practices held in the hot sun?” I asked.
“But you actually LIKE doing work. I don’t,” he said.
What?!?! There’s a big difference between actually liking dirty, crappy jobs and being disciplined enough to do them. If I didn’t keep right on him, albeit difficult from atop the ladder, he’d pretend he was done and go back in the house. Dragged back outside to work on the big hedge, he refused to lean precariously off the ladder and thrust whirring blades at out-of-reach stuff, like I do. Safety became his new excuse.
Kate arrived home later, exhausted from non-slumbering at a slumber party. She suggested waiting yet another day on moving the wood pile and resisted when I insisted it happen then.
“Fine, then I’m going to complain the whole time,” she sputtered. My speech on how nice it would be to view our accomplishment afterward was lost on the siblings as they bickered over who was taking too long to put on gloves, picking up the lightest pieces, and stacking the pile crookedly.
“Don’t make me step in or you won’t like it,” I heard myself say. Wouldn’t my dad be proud!


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