I’d been postponing the inevitable after striking out with one firm too anal and hoop jump requiring for a measly $200 job, and the other wanting three times as much, when it hit me.
The girl is always hankering to earn cash.
Why not Tom Sawyer her into completing the work while I scrambled to reign in my other unwieldy projects rapidly spinning out of control?
I might even go out on a limb and call it a teachable moment. Yeah, that’s right. Downright educational. Not only would she learn the value of hard work, she’d also get a birds-eye view of Carl von Clausewitz’s theories on warfare. Right about now I’m patting myself on the back, fast-forwarding 11 years when she’s thanking me for instilling in her an early appreciation of the romantic intricacies of mano slaughtering mano.
Her enthusiasm is there. At a buck a page, staring down 50 total pages, this nine-year old is so far on board she’s skippering the U-boat.
She’s thinking: easy money.
I’m thinking: task delegated, hand-holding required, sure, but keeping it in the family, and, oh yeah, honing valuable, lifelong skills.
So she dives right in, bangs out a few paragraphs, then pauses to add some iTunes flavor to her workplace. Six sentences later she starts toggling between MS Word and Club Penguin. Several more words, then she calls it a day.
Zoinks! At this rate, she’ll clear 50 pages by late November.
With my deadline fast approaching, I gotta think fast. Up the rate? Incentivize with healthcare benefits? Let her stay up past her bedtime to complete?
The minutes between typing sessions turn into hours. Then days.
I remain silent and resort to prayer.
I greet her at school and offer a chipper, “Up for some typin’ today? Buck a page. Fifty if you do ’em all… How many you got now, what’s that? Er, one? OK, great, keep it up! You know, sweetie, our deadline is soon. I may have to jump in if you don’t think you can finish…”
“I want to. I like typing,” she replies. She types up another page.
48 more to go. The end-of-the-month deadline now looms over my head. Sensing her waning interest, I remind her of the cash at the end of the tunnel.
Instead of telling me flat out she’s had enough, she simply walks away when I raise the topic of typing in place of DS-ing, Wii-ing, pulling sheets of skin off her peeling shoulders. A diplomat in the making, that girl is.
I make a last, feeble attempt to pump up her enthusiasm about this great money making opportunity, then hear her mumble something about having to deal with a toe lint crisis, and I eventually take over the project.
In looking over her two pages of completed work, I pause for a moment. I notice the care and attention to detail she put into them. Barely a typo. Page numbers properly inserted. Paragraphs neatly formatted.
I feel pangs of sadness imagining my beautiful little girl saddled by her daddy with this clunky Clausewitz mumbo jumbo, and simultaneously immense pride for how conscientiously she tackled those two pages.
Two elegant pages emblematic of a strong work ethic.
Forty-eight undone pages representative of a girl who follows her heart rather than bowing to the almighty dollar.