One of the Colonel's more important endeavors in his unforced exile here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere is a modest contribution to the character development and mind-broadening of his grandsons, the Hope of 21st Century Civilization, Dashes 1, 2, and 3 (H21CC - 1, 2, & 3). The Colonel's vast holdings, and the extant flora and fauna thereon, provide the most excellent of classrooms.
The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's desire to beautify and fancify the portions of the Colonel's vast holdings within eyeshot of the Big House also provide project vehicles with which to provide the aforementioned character development and mind-broadening.
At this point, however, he isn't certain whose character has been more developed and whose mind has been more broadened -- the Colonel's or the boys'.
One thing for certain, the Colonel's wallet has been lightened.
As summer approached this year, the Colonel told the oldest two of his three grandsons, that if they would come out to "Pop and Nana's" and help with some physical labor, he would compensate them for their work (and, thereby, teach a few lessons in capitalism and work ethic). The other morning, the Colonel's grandsons arrived ready "to make some money." The Colonel obliged.
An hour of physical labor ensued. The oldest two bent to the work without complaint, helping the Colonel tote and lift long 2 x 6 boards up and fasten them to the top of the latest effort to beautify the gardens surrounding the Big House. The youngest, all four precocious years of him, saw his brothers doing cool stuff and wanted to be a part of it.
"I wanna help, Pop!"
His brothers snickered and, as all older brothers have done since the beginning of brotherhood, derided his desire, "You're too little!"
Hearing someone told that they are "too little" to do something doesn't sit well with the Colonel. He pointed to the oldest, "bring that third ladder over here for your brother."
Dash One complied, and Dash Three clambered up and perched atop the ladder with a broad grin on his face. He reached up and "helped" hold a board in place while the Colonel secured it with his screw gun. Said screw gun caught the lad's attention, "I wanna do that, Pop!"
"Well, c'mon then," the Colonel said. The youngster climbed down his ladder and up the ladder next to the Colonel.
"Okay," the Colonel held a gun in place over a bolt, "pull that trigger." The gun whined until the bolt snugged up.
The Colonel is proud to be a part of introducing yet another male to the unbridled and expensive love of powered hand tools.
After an hour of work in the hot June sun, the Colonel was ready for a cooling off break, and the four of them headed down to the dock on Lake Brenda. An hour of thrashing and splashing ensued.
Followed by an hour of rest in the rocking chairs on the front porch of the Big House. Well..., the Colonel rested. The boys continued to romp about with the boundless energy of youth and inexperience.
The Colonel's daughter-in-law (she of the high and exalted position of "Provider of Grandsons") arrived a while later to collect her brood.
"Did they work hard, Pop?"
"Yep, couldn't have done the work without 'em."
The Colonel gathered the boys up and reached for his wallet. "I promised you," he addressed the oldest two, "that we would start out at $5 an hour this summer, and based on your work and attitude, we'd see about raises. You worked an hour today and did a great job. Here's a five dollar bill for each of you."
The youngest watched this exchange with great interest and anticipation. The Colonel turned to him, "And you did good work, too." A dollar bill was handed over to the grinning tyke.
The Colonel's favorite and first mother-in-law -- the wise and courageous Miss Martha -- watched with the keen interest of a great grandmother who has always looked out for the interest of the least of her grand and great grand progeny.
"Ahem," she interjected and crooked a beckoning finger. The little one went to her and she whispered in his ear. He turned to the Colonel with his hand out, "I helped screw in that board."
"Yes, you did. That's why I gave you a dollar."
"I helped move the ladder."
The Colonel shot a withering glance at Miss Martha. Well..., okay. It wasn't exactly withering. It was actually more like a whose side are you on? look. The answer to that question came quickly as she piled on,
"He also helped load the kayak in truck."
"But, that wasn't during the 'official work' period," the Colonel protested. "That was clearly within the preparatory phase of the 'thrash and splash' period, for which the Colonel has never, and will never, offer monetary compensation."
To the Colonel's consternation, his strong protestations induced no weakening in the wise and courageous Miss Martha's resolve (not that there ever is). To his further consternation, the Colonel could clearly see his third grand progeny gaining more stubborn resolve in the situation (as if he ever needed more).
The Colonel forked over another dollar bill to the grubby little highway robber. His wise and courageous accomplice in crime against colonelcy got his attention with an urgent, "Ahem!" She crooked a beckoning finger and whispered in his ear.
The former favorite little buddy turned mercenary ingrate turned to the Colonel and announced defiantly, "That's three works." Three fingers extended toward the Colonel in exclamation.
The Colonel forked over a third dollar.
The other two grandsons began to grumble. The Colonel shot them a withering glance. Well..., okay. It wasn't exactly withering. It was more of a sorry fellas, the bank is out of cash look.
Character development and mind-broadening is turning out to be a far more expensive proposition than the Colonel thought.