I undertook an ambitious bit of landscaping on Saturday that consisted of transporting a row of dirt from one spot along our northern fence to another part of our yard. Personal projects and fatherhood seldom go hand in hand. Inevitably, my five-year-old son came out about half way through my day's labors to ask if he could help. Wielding a large shovel and large amounts of wet dirt is hardly work for a five-year-old, but experience has shown me that there was almost no way to effectively communicate that to my son without leaving him disappointed because he wouldn't be able to help dad.
Earlier, I had pulled out a large yogurt container that I had planned to use for transporting tulips. It turned out that I didn't use it for the tulips. To my son's inquiry if he could help, I began the attempt to explain to him why he couldn't do this work. Struggling to find some side job that would allow him to be engaged --without slowing down my work (significantly)-- I suggested that maybe he could use the yogurt container to hunt for worms and feed them to our chickens. Never did anything sound more exciting and desirable to a five-year-old!
For the more part of the next hour, our three chickens enjoyed a hardy feast of early spring earthworms hand-picked by my son. After which he was finally exhausted and gave up for the time being. He resumed his work later in the afternoon, joined this time by his younger brother. By this time, we were saying that we had dug up so many worms that that it was going to be a worm party. We corrected ourselves though as we realized it was the chickens that would have the party... at the worms' expense. So it was a chicken party.
Fatherhood, for all its delays to personal pursuits, is an amazing experience.