How do you Like Being in Charge?

Our thirteen year-old son has long been given responsibility beyond his chronological age, because he’s always proved to have the ability to handle it. He’s taken on advanced projects of all sorts, interacted with a variety of people, and successfully navigated his way through potentially challenging situations. His Dad has had never had any doubt about leaving his oldest son “in charge” when he’s gone away for work or on-mission. This week was no exception, except that things were a little more involved this time around.

We were in the middle of trying to salvage a botched bore hole and well-development project. The man we’d hired to take the job was a known drinker but no one who recommended him to us bothered to tell us that part; perhaps they didn’t feel it relevant. After all, he had the knowledge and experience to successfully complete the project. They were apparently unaware that we put integrity first.

The man had quite an interesting personality as well–as best we could describe it, it’s “intense.” He also seemed to prefer talking to working and, being the man in charge of the project (with two others working alongside of him), it seemed as if the other two guys spent a lot more time digging and hauling dirt from the bore hole than he did.

We were also overseeing a repair to our chimney, which resulted from a bad concrete job when it was installed. Unbeknownst to us, the man we hired to do the work was the one who originally messed it up in the first place.

Then there were the cultural differences to navigate: they asked for food at lunch time, even though all of them live within walking distance. Was that normal, or were they just taking advantage of the mzungu? OK, and in America a work day is 8 hours; here it’s apparently 6 or 7 or however long they feel like working. Finally, the matter of paying in advance of the actual labor being completed, because there are doctor/hospital bills to be paid for sick children,…and so on.  And don’t forget, another frustration in all of this is the language barrier–our Swahili is still limited, as is their English, so that’s been an impediment to progress as well. All little matters needing oversight and attention.

Marc had been dealing with all of this, with no small stress, when mid-week came and he had to go off on-mission for training. He made sure our son understood his plan for the well development, told the head worker that, yes, our 13 year-old would be supervising the work, and…off he went.

Our boy spent about two-thirds of yesterday dealing with people conflicts and getting dirty helping with the labor just to keep the guys on-task. We all had lunch at 12:30, and…he tried. As he dealt with distraction after distraction, I heated up his favorite cream of tomato soup about three different times, and he finally got to choke it down at about 2:30 while he was “organizing” to get a load of sand delivered for the chimney repair.

As he sat down to some luke-warm soup, I asked him casually, “How do you like being in charge?” As one who usually likes being the top-dog among his siblings, I was kind of curious how he would respond. He shook his head emphatically and said, “I don’t like it!” He expounded on how much easier it would be if people would just do their jobs and how frustrating it was to work so hard and barely get to eat lunch when everyone else was already done, and…he hadn’t yet had a bit of free time!

I hear ya, son…welcome to adulthood.


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