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Today's fun may be tomorrow's chore

Washing one's car is an onerous task, as almost anyone would admit. As I chatted with my neighbor while he started on his car the other day, we both agreed that this was one of life's unpleasant chores, to be dispensed with as quickly as possible.

Like I said, almost anyone would agree. Anyone, that is, except a child. When our three preschoolers who were playing together nearby got wind of what was going on, they were beside us in an instant, grabbing sponges, whooping with delight, and only too happy to jump into what to them looked like great fun. Washing a car a "chore"? They won't think so until they are teenagers.It amazes me that young children can look at life this way. They think all sorts of mundane tasks I take on with only the goal of getting them over with as soon as possible are, really, up there with amusement park attractions. What am I missing? Making beds, doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, pulling up weeds, and especially sweeping out the garage yield groans from me and squeals of joy from my little ones who only want to "help" too. Most amazing? One of the things my preschooler likes best in the whole world is "helping" me pay my bills.

And that's only when the chores center on the home. When they involve errands, it's like going to a playground. I sigh at the typical bank, grocery store, post office itinerary. But my kids see the possibility of adventure every time we get in the car. I focus on the same tedious "maintenance items" that need to be accomplished every week. I guess they see riding in carts and scribbling with pens attached to those long chains - and they think it's fun.

Then there's the flip side. Things that young children are encouraged to do are things that they seem to eschew. Yet, as adults, they will long for these same activities and usually never get enough of them.

Like sleep. Little ones are convinced they don't ever need it and will go to great lengths to avoid it. Yet opportunities to sleep are available to them virtually on command. More importantly, few things make the grownups around them happier when they do it. But no, they fight sleep at every turn. How they will rue the day they turned away from such luxury. When they are older, little will seem more desirable than a nap or going to bed early.

And food. Parents stand over their children begging them to eat a good dinner, and yet children regularly turn up their little noses at the delicious chicken or lasagna or heavily buttered vegetable dish before them. Yet, as adults, the idea of such a "forced feeding," accompanied by the satisfaction that one really truly does need the calories, would seem like a scenario from Fantasy Island.

Or just sitting quietly, relaxing undisturbed, looking at a favorite book or magazine. Most children would be allowed to enjoy just about as much of this activity as they could possibly want - their parents would be only too thrilled to indulge them in it. But young kids rarely want anything to do with time spent in such a "boring" way. But when grown, especially when they are parents of young children, they will crave hours of such time - and will be fortunate to carve out more than a few minutes of it once in a while.

Ah, such is life.