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Day 104: Contentment

As I type this, I’m sitting on our back porch being caressed by evening breezes. The sounds of my children playing (long past bedtime, but isn’t this what summer is for?) and the birds calling from tree to tree are a backdrop to a live online concert of camp tunes. The clouds look like cotton candy. Right now, everything is all right.

This morning we made one hundred and seventy-six sandwiches for the Ve’ahavta street outreach van. Mr. December made the kids (one at a time) be the supervisor, and coached them to figure out a method, maintain quality control, and keep the assembly line moving at a steady rate. The three older kids also got to practice their handwriting by making labels for each of the 176 sandwich bags, and they got to see how multiplication is the simplest way to count large quantities of items.

We talked about assembly lines and how they revolutionized manufacturing. The kids knew that Henry Ford was famous for making assembly lines very profitable (apparently they learned that from the musical Ragtime.) We chatted a bit about children’s work in times past.

“You know,” K observed, “E is the best person to bring us the bread and carry away the sandwiches. It’s easy work and it lets her keep moving.”

“That’s why throughout history little kids often did those kinds of jobs. It freed up older children and adults for the skilled tasks,” Mr. December responded. “If you had been born a couple of hundred years ago, you might have had jobs too.”

We decided to bike the sandwiches over to Ve’ahavta’s office, which is about five kilometres from our house. That was five kilometres, uphill, on a bakfiets (which weighs 100 pounds) carrying E and all of the sandwiches. Within fifteen minutes my legs were shaking, but — and this is one of my favourite things about biking for exercise — we had to get those sandwiches to their destination, so I persevered.

We biked to my parents’ house for a swim, and then found reasons to hang around a bit longer. I’d forgotten how nice it is to just be in their house with no particular agenda.

And now it’s long past the kids’s bedtime, and I must put E to bed. The sun is down, the leaves are rustling, and a few diehard birds are still chirping to each other. It’s peaceful. Everything is all right.

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