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Peter Rabbit's Race Game' showing the top of the lid, made by Frederick Warne & Co Ltd. (c.1930)
"If it's not fun, why bother?"

While most of our Refurbishing work requires an adult's patience and skill, some of the effort qualifies as KidWork, if only because the workers remain, as do all adults, kids at heart. We look for opportunities to break out of our roles and escape from under our responsibilities, if only for a few spare, necessary minutes. Almost anything out of the ordinary qualifies as KidWork, a trip to pick up a needed quart of paint could do. It's mostly about attitude. KidWork offers opportunities to play, to recreate, without even a hint of a suggestion that one's shirking off. It's largely a matter of style, a playful guile, often applied to what might otherwise seem like a serious undertaking. I find that emptying the garbage, if entered into with the proper flippant attitude, can provide that slight change of pace that almost feels like a vacation from more serious and consequential tasks. I might choose to exit via the scaffolding, remembering long hours spent hanging from monkey bars in my youth. Five short minutes of clamoring down or up, and I feel like a pup again, ready for anything.

We quite accidentally discovered how satisfying throwing stuff off the front porch roof deck feels.
Faced with removing fifty empty floor planking boxes, each five feet long and a foot wide, and not wanting to damage the freshly painted stairway's finish awkwardly carting them down, I threw a few off the roof deck and discovered that they made fine gliders, or could if properly powered. A sharp nudge and they float pretty far, almost to the front sidewalk, where I could pile them up and haul them to Elizabeth, our second car which doubles as our Lexus pick-up truck during Refurbishing, for later disposal out at the free drop-off at the landfill, that trip also a form of KidWork, a routine breaker, an adventure. Kurt got one box clear to the parking strip. We pass long baseboards down and back up via the front porch roof deck route. We tell ourselves it's more practical and it actually might be! Anything that pulls me out on an errand in the middle of the morning sparks that playing hooky sense, that I'm getting away from and with something, on the lam. Few sensations seem more enlivening than indulging in an absence. "I'll be right back," I lie, as I head for the exit. Knowing the rest of the crew's still sweating only adds to my experience.

My Pop-Up Paint Shoppe, a serious place for conducting serious business, seems about 90% tree fort to me. It's really just a big tent, but I organized the stuff in it so it's sort of more like my private surgery, implements artfully placed to be easily reached when I'm performing an operation. Dr. David, Door Doctor, keeping regular office hours, a serious professional in my own imagination, dispensing remedies. I'm joking here, but only a bit. The drudgery of most of the Refurbishing work encourages flights of fancy in us workers. Who knows who we're pretending to be while we engage in mindlessly repetitive tasks? I've caught myself being a pirate at times, the absolute scourge of baseboards, removing paint with extreme prejudice, no survivors! Sometimes, and I apologize for this, I pretend that I'm the grownup in the room, the only one, and hold superior judgement. I swallow false competence until I've had my fill or take a spill not lost on everyone else in the crew. What else was a slightly bored inner eight year old to do?

My father, a life-long postal worker, could reliably hang a rubber band off a co-worker's ear from clear across the sorting room floor after decades of practice. Some of every job, every profession, involves KidWork if you let it. I have no idea and don't want to imagine what kinds of KidWork brain surgeons and dentists engage in, but I know that they have some. To not invent KidWork seems inhuman. We're playful by nature, even when and probably especially when we're supposed to be playing serious. A snark might somehow escape from my nose just when we were getting close to feeling all grown up, and remind us that we're really here to play. Until it's fun, it's better left undone. That wisdom might strongly suggest that our first and foremost responsibility might have always been to make what we're doing fun. If it's not fun, why bother?

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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