Saturday’s Child

kids carry the load

Saturday’s child works hard for his, or her, living.  And while Saturday’s child may be on the endangered species list, we can restore his and her natural habitat by thinking more deeply about how we cultivate a good work ethic.  This is a tricky bit of business, because we ourselves may be workaholics, and so modeling an obsessive preoccupation with work may be as much the problem as the solution… especially when we factor in the Tom Sawyer effect (i.e. the importance of making work appear fun, if you hope to get others to follow your lead).

Saturday’s child whistles while she works… and she works hard for her “living.”  Now “living” might imply bread on the table and a roof over our heads—and for that we ought to work hard and be grateful; but Saturday’s child does not necessarily work manically hard for a McMansion or for a first-class upgrade.  And Saturday’s child does not pitch a fit when they have to wait their turn, or when they don’t get a gold-star, an A+ and an aria for their efforts.

Think of Snow White, who is probably a Monday or Tuesday’s child, and her seven dwarfs as Saturday’s children:  dig, dig, dig, that’s what they like to do.  Saturday’s child might be friends with Hephaestus, the hard-working but lame god of blacksmiths, artisans and craftspersons.  Saturday’s child may disappear into the underworld of their imagination and be working hard on things we parents don’t know anything about, but they eventually trudge up from the depths with a splendid bit of art, or a turn of phrase or some fleeting and enigmatic expression of ancient knowing twinkling in their eyes that reminds us that “work” is neither something to dodge, nor is it something to get addicted to.  Work just is, and Saturday’s child is all about “living.” 

When we dedicate our work, in our case our parenting, to something higher (i.e. the love of all that just is), then we may manage to want what’s on our plates.  This is happiness, and more than any other child, Saturday’s child holds a key, forged by Hephaestus, and rolled up the hill of our cynical despair by Sisyphus, that unlocks presence to the moment.

Finally, and back to basics, it’s good to remind Saturday’s child to work first and then play (i.e. homework and then electronic games), but also to suggest that learning is the way that we can understand our life’s work—which is to ever learn, grow and evolve.  If we teach process rather than end-goals, kids will be self-starters; they will be happier and they will also become increasingly easy to parent (i.e. just doing their homework without us nagging them).  Ultimately, Saturday’s child is yang energy to counter-balance the yin of repose, of play and of stillness.

So, let’s work hard today, in honor of living today—in the service of all our collective children.  Perhaps our hardest work is parenting itself, and/or being present to the seemingly low-level tasks of cooking, cleaning, laundry and the like… and here we call on the seven dwarfs, Mary Popins and Harry Potter to redouble our efforts to get the magic right.  As Hemingway said, “Easy reading is hard writing.”  Parenting that appears effortless is born of a lot of hard work… and just when we are starting to understand and enjoy it all, the kids are out the door… for the day, and then for the semester and then for good.  Work hard to fill it, but then drink deeply from the cup of today.

Namaste, Bruce

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