Leigh Jones: Making work look fun

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, April 30th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next up, WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones on teaching a child perspective about work.

LEIGH JONES, COMMENTATOR: The other day, my 5-year-old marched into the kitchen as I was busy making dinner. She carried a wireless keyboard, and a pair of hot pink headphones covered her ears. The long cord dragged behind her as she climbed into her chair at the kitchen table.

She looked at me sideways from under long lashes, then set the keyboard down and began tapping away. Mischievousness tugged at the corners of her mouth. I took the bait.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Ssshhhhhhh, Mommy. No more talking. I’m doing an interview,” she declared.

Of course, I laughed and took the obligatory photo. I found her mommy mimic pantomime especially amusing in light of another recent conversation we’d had. It was about her upcoming summer break from school.

“Mommy, do you get the summer off?”

“No, sweetheart. Mommy still has to work.”

“Ugh. Being an adult is so boring! I never want to grow up!”

We have some version of this conversation every few weeks. It’s normally sparked by a day off from school. That’s when she’s faced with the truly terrible prospect of having to entertain herself.

She genuinely cannot fathom why anything should prevent me from playing with her. She has a similar disdain for such mundane tasks as cooking, cleaning, and trips to the grocery store.

My usual response goes something like this: “I know you wish I didn’t have to work. But all adults work. That’s how we get money to pay for fun things like trips to the zoo and ballet lessons.”

But I’ve recently faced the conviction that I’m sending the wrong message—and missing an opportunity.

I don’t want her to think of work as a necessary evil. Of course, sometimes it is. At least I would put vacuuming and scrubbing toilets into that category. But work is also God-ordained and good for our souls. Even my 5-year-old can start thinking through the truth of that.

So next time she complains about my work, I’m going to tell her that I love my job. I’ll tell her I’m grateful God gives me work that’s especially suited for my gifts. I’m going to ask her to consider Adam in the garden. Why did God give him the work of naming the animals instead of naming them Himself so that Adam could spend his time playing?

I’m also going to make sure that when she watches me work, I look like I’m enjoying it. Maybe she will want to pretend being me at work more often. And eventually she will begin to realize that work is meaningful as well as necessary. Sometimes, it’s even as much fun as playing.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.

(Photo/Leigh Jones)

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