So, here's a story. It's long, but I have to write it down because I don't want to forget it. Levi and Jesse have been pooling their money and trying to make enough/save enough to buy a certain Star Wars LEGO kit. They thought their pace was too slow and have been asking for bigger jobs that might pay big dividends (no $ for regular chores here, but instead of an allowance we pay for jobs that are extra-hard/time consuming). It doesn't take much looking around here right now to see a big job -- the snow. The one half of our driveway had not yet been touched -- not even stepped on since the first big snow. Walls of snow had been pushed up on either end; I figured we'd be driving out that side of the "U" sometime in April.
So the deal was offered: Levi would be the project manager. Snow had to be shoveled from the snow wall by the garage to a point 10 feet from the road (which Eric would shovel so the kids wouldn't be too near the road). If the job was done well enough that Eric could drive the van out that side without getting stuck, they got $30 (it started at $25, but I upped it because I couldn't imagine them doing it and if they actually did it would be WAY worth $30.). Levi could do all the work himself and get all the money, or he could "hire" workers and make deals with them for part of the earnings. However, if the van didn't make it, they got $0.
Levi and Jesse were excited about the money, but very unsure about their prospects. They decided to give it a try somewhere around 2 p.m. Sunday. We gave them some pointers on how not to waste time/energy, and they set at it. They were back in less than an hour, panting and almost completely defeated. "There's no way," Levi said. "My arms are killing me, and we barely got anything done."
We didn't say anything. After about an hour of playing inside they suited up again and said they were going to keep going. Levi said later that it was like he got 10 times as much done in that second effort than in the first, and he didn't know why (although when I asked how Jesse had done, he mentioned that Jesse just kept talking the whole time and it helped because it kept his mind off how hard the job was: ). When I looked out about an hour later and saw how much they had done, I bundled up and went out with some "energy snacks" (Valentines Day cookies the girls and I had made) and gave a lot of encouragement. They pepped up and kept digging. I called them in for supper about 1/2 hour later, and they came in and unsuited and warmed up. We didn't say anything about the job, and the light was starting to dim. Levi looked unsure about whether he wanted to go out again, and he knew that they had yet to tackle the hardest part -- the built-up wall of snow right by the garage that was blocking the way to the rest of the driveway that had not been shoveled.
He asked Jesse again and Jesse said OK, so once again they layered on snowsuits and gloves and boots and hats and coats and headed out. I cleaned up, I did a little laundry, Eric read with the girls, he did a little computer work, I did a little computer work...we completely lost track of time and the boys. I was sitting and talking with Eric and it was about 7:30 and it hit me: "Are the boys still outside?!"
Eric went out; they weren't done yet. It was totally dark and the temp was dropping fast. I had told him that Jesse definitely had to come in, but he told Levi also, that he should stop. Jesse was very glad to get his clothes off and warm pajamas on and get some hot chocolate. Eric came in with Levi, and Levi was so disappointed. "We were so close," he said. "Really?" I asked -- because although I knew they had been shoveling and really working on it, I just didn't think they could have gotten it to the point where it was truly passable. "I think I could," he said. Well, I just knew then that I couldn't make him stop. Eric had decided to go out and shovel the portion near the road, so at least it would be done before the next snow that was coming. I told Levi that I couldn't let Jesse go out again but that if he wanted to I would leave the decision up to him. He was already changed into his pajamas. The thought of a blanket and hot chocolate fought with the thought of getting it done for about 10 seconds in his eyes, then he ran upstairs and threw on those clothes again, suited up again, and headed outside.
I got everyone else ready for bed and settled into reading or some activity and then I couldn't help but bundle up myself and head outside. I fed and watered the cats first, and while I was in the chicken barn, Levi yelled, "Mom! We're going to try it! I'm riding with Dad! Watch us!"
So I stood on top of one of our snow mountains in the backyard and watched and prayed and grinned as they pulled the van out of the garage and drove it...right up the right side of the lane and onto US 40. Eric honked and beeped and they pulled it right back in the other side and back into the garage. You would've thought we all had medaled at the Olympics. Levi jumped from the van and hugged me and hugged Eric and said, "Thanks, Dad." Yes, I was near tears.
He ran inside yelling -- and this was part of what made me SO proud of him -- "We did it, Jess...we did it!" It was like he matured before our eyes and out came strength and perseverance and humility and thoughtfulness. I wanted to soak him in.
God teaches me way more through my children each day than I teach them. I'm convinced of it.