Important Work

I was about to call my son to do his morning chore of taking out the garbage when I heard his father ask his friend and him, "What's on the agenda today?"

"I guess all we have to do is play," my son responded.

"Tough job," said my husband as he opened the door and faced his ten-hour workday.

"Yeah," chimed my son's friend, "and all we get for it is room and board."

I forgot about the garbage for awhile and started breakfast. After all, the two men left at home needed energy for their tough job and I wanted to be sure the board was up to snuff.

After breakfast, they gathered two long gardening poles from the garage and went into the field. There the poles transformed into fighting weapons. I had no idea how much you could pick up watching old Bruce Lee movies.

Later they gathered Lego pieces, a book on decoding, extra sweatshirts, and baseball caps. All of these were needed for their next assignment as secret agents.

"I have special glasses in the back of this cap so I can see everything that's going on behind me," I overheard my son confide. I peeked around the corner to see if I could figure out how it worked. Seemed a lot of parents could do with one of those hats.

"My cap has an antennae that comes out the top," his friend disclosed, "so I can talk with my leaders when things get tough."

I could use one of those too.

Their last duty of the morning unfolded before my eyes as I stood washing dishes at the kitchen sink. The boy from next door had joined them in this enterprise. They'd located a small rise from which to launch into the air, one after another. Each tried different techniques in their quest to become airborne. They must have remembered the story of Icarus because none of them asked for wax, but the neighbor boy put a lot of faith in two flimsy branches he'd pulled from a Scotch broom plant. Personally, I thought it a rather silly choice, but it's really of no matter to a bystander.

I called them in for lunch. I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then felt guilty for supplying a plebeian lunch to such high-flying souls. Nevertheless, it seemed to sustain them for the afternoon when they really got serious.

They built a fort in the tall grass to rival Fort Apache. They fought a dragon who'd taken up residence in a near-by apple orchard. They developed a graph to determine the favorite food of neighborhood residents and then helped a friend establish an Orange Juice Stand business.

The garbage was overflowing by this time. I called my son, planning to ask him to complete his long overdue task. "Yes, Mom." He ran to me, canteen over his shoulder.

I looked down at him, all sweaty and grass-stained and muddy. He'd accomplished so much that day, all for paltry room and board.

"Go finish your work, son," I said

He went off to cross the desert as I carried the garbage to the garage.

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