Teaching life skills to our children was always a priority in the Spry household. With one 15-year-old remaining, there isn’t a whole lot of that still going on. Bella is expected to do her own laundry and clean her bathroom regularly. She grieved the loss of each brother leaving home for college as garbage and recycling duties then fell to her.
She misses them for much more substantive reasons, but gaining extra chores only added bitterness. I have always been thankful for a smaller home which affords less room for dust, but unfortunately, square footage doesn’t seem to correlate to the volume of refuse generated. And big or small domicile, clutter seems to be a curse of prosperity.
Despite my mediocre efforts to limit it, we are inundated with stuff. This stuff seems important enough, because I can’t seem to get rid of it. When I clear something out—garbage, giveaway or recycle—I somehow seem to backfill the space with ease.
Growing up, our same-gendered children always shared a bedroom, so like their parents they had to learn to live in close proximity with someone who didn’t share the same personality or propensities. This, I think, was good training for being a roommate, friend and eventually a spouse.
Our boys had bunkbeds, a high-rise sleeping arrangement meant to free up more space in their room for play. This is fun, but despite having a guard rail, not the safest. Our younger son, Aaron, once fell off, right into my arms as I walked into the room…miraculous timing. He fell out of a top bunk another time, at a friend’s house, injuring his knee.
Why these two incidents did not convince us to put the kibosh on bunk beds is beyond me. As if testing fate, we continued to let Aaron sleep in the upper bunk. Less compelling a reason than this relative safety risk, is the practical matter of actually making a bunk bed.
At some point early in their youth, this task fell to each boy. I never fussed much about them making each of their bunk beds neatly as I had learned early on that making them well is quite a feat. It had been a while since I tried and then recently I put fresh linens on two sets of bunk beds at our up north home.
I’m now convinced this should be a new Olympic sport, with accuracy and speed as the main components. I would definitely opt for a two-person team over a solo event. Making these beds alone has given me a new appreciation for team work. A job like this—so awkward and cumbersome—is dramatically simplified with four hands instead of two.
Hence the famous proverb, many hands make light work. And:
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” Ecclesiastes 4:9
Is there some challenging task you need to accomplish? A project you’ve been putting off due to difficulty? Ask a friend, neighbor, child or spouse. We need not go it alone. Call for help. We need to slow down and be that person to someone else, the one we sometimes need.
Get outside your comfort zone and take it to the next level: instead of waiting for someone to ask, let your single friend, neighbor or loved one know that you are there to help. The next time I make a bunk bed, I am determined not to go it alone. Scott? Bella? Help!
Godspeed: The Pace of Being Known
My son Jacob shared this good video with me a while back. I asked permission from the producer to imbed this 36-minute film, but they prefer I only use the trailer (below). The film is free at this link. Pastor-and-author couple, Matt and Julie Canlis were chaplains at Hope College around 20 years ago. They also spent a decade serving in rural Scotland. Their message is simple, yet profound: slow down, get to know others, yourself and God. Good things happens when we get outside and get to know our neighbors. After watching this, like me, you just may want to move to a remote green island. But the point is to find peace and purpose right where we are.