“Many hands make light work.” I would argue that many small hands make light-hearted work. Children love to help, and often get giddy with excitement when there is an outdoor job to be done. Many times the job to be done couldn’t possibly accommodate as many workers as have volunteered, so I try to delegate down to the smallest task to involve as many willing helpers as possible. Usually this means the smallest children have completed their part of the job very quickly and move on to asking poignant and sometimes existential questions about the work we are doing, followed by spontaneous outbursts of energy which most times will culminate in a game of tag around the area where I continue to work.
Like the phases of matter, solid to liquid to gas, these phases of children’s helpfulness are just part of the natural order of things. They heat up and cool down, settling back in to take a knee for a couple more questions before exploding outwards at full speed with no warning. If I were to time how long the job would take, I would not be surprised to learn that it took me far longer to complete the work with their help than without, but neither I nor they would have gotten nearly as much enjoyment out of it. Pausing to wipe sweat from my brow becomes a moment of joy, my sore back and aching feet forgotten as I watch the children squealing with joy when a hand just misses its mark or a ball goes flying over a head. They are helping me dig this hole just as much as if they held the shovel themselves.