There is a darker side to visiting our house. I imagine that this time it crept up quietly on our nephews, like the proverbial grue. We spent a day settling in at the beginning of their trip, and then several days at the coast, and then, returned to our house for a good long break before the next trip, they were suddenly drafted into a Non-Optional trip to Home Depot. And sure, that part wasn’t too painful (who doesn’t like to see a forklift load a pallet of cinder blocks into a truck?) but the next part, unloading the cinder blocks back at the house, was also Non-Optional. Complaints, argument, and even tears failed to free them from that task. Without warning, they had been caught in the tenacious maw of a Work Project.
And the torment didn’t end there. They were required to dig trenches in the dirt behind our shop, to help fill those trenches with sand, and even to help set some of the blocks. (Although to be fair, they didn’t have to set many of them; the meticulous work of correctly positioning and leveling the cinder blocks in order to get a good dry-stacked structure was a bit too much for them. “It took like fifteen minutes to set one block!” they told me later. Eventually Dave decided to do that part alone.) And in moments when their hands were, for one reason or another, legitimately idle, were they invited back into the air-conditioned house, to get themselves a cool drink and spend some time relaxing with their video games? No, they were not! Instead they were sent over the garden to help rejuvenate the strawberry bed.
Contrary to what they probably believe, we don’t do this to torture them. It’s just that we have a long list of projects that we’d like to do around the house, and many of these projects are difficult to get to, what with things like Dave’s job and our kids getting in the way. Having four consecutive days with Dave at home is just too fantastic of an opportunity for us to pass up. Having two extra pairs of hands available is just a bonus.
And so, despite much wailing and gnashing of teeth, our nephews helped us to build our long-awaited compost bins. Our compost now has an official container, and has been moved out of the rather untidy (and highly baby-accessible) heap near the back fence. This is tremendously exciting for me. And I’m sure that somewhere deep down, Jason and Justin feel very satisfied with having made such a difference in our lives. Somewhere very, very deep down.