Before anyone gets any ideas, no, this is not a follow on to a Kevin Costner movie. Heck, my kids wouldn't even know who he is anyway. This post is more about a sense of pride a daddy gets from having a genuinely good helper around, including the fun that can ensue.
I don't know why this particular instance sticks in my mind, but it ranks right up there. I think it is simply that one moment when you realize your kids are not just a tiny little human that has not much purpose aside from a being a little toy that you can pick up, cuddle, play with, and when you set them back down they go back to doing whatever they want. You know...that one moment when you realize that your kid can actually be useful in the family environment. That one time when you give them something to do and they not only can do it, but for the most part they enjoy it because it is actually helping and not just "busy-work" to keep them out of your hair. The moment I am describing is the first time I took Middle Smurf out to help me get the water. She was desperately in need of some daddy time that was only with me, and this was a perfect opportunity to see if she could handle real responsibility.
When we got there I hooked up the water hose to the first tank in the trailer like I usually did. I simply tied the hose so it wouldn't come out. Next, I dug out the little step ladder I brought with me and set it up in front of the control panel. I went ahead and entered the login information and up came the big green button. I let her climb on the ladder and gave her the instructions about pushing the virtual button. Then I let her do it and it was basically a non-event. Then when the time came I hollered "1", "2", "3"..."STOP!". She pressed the stop button and all was done. No big deal if you exclude the fact that this was her first time with a virtual, touch screen button with no tactical feedback and she had all of the pressure of not letting the tank overflow while daddy was yelling "1,2,3...STOP!" at her.
Next I decided to give her a little more responsibility. I untied the hose and simply held it over the next tank with my bare hands. "OK...go!" A couple of seconds later here comes the flow. When that tank was approaching the top I started the countdown again.
Granted, this time I got a little wet because she didn't realize the amount of touch that was required (which the adrenaline gave her on the first go around)...so I took it for the team...no big deal. The impressive thing was that she kept her cool, pressed again until it went red, and that was it.
To this day I still yell that familiar "1, 2, 3...STOP!" phrase, but instead of doing it every tank I simply carry the hose from one tank to the next and let her stank in the "splash zone". She then runs back over to the ladder in time to hit stop for me. This way we both get soaking wet!
Update: I originally hadn't actually posted this article, I don't really know why. Maybe because I felt it was a little to sentimental to share. But now that I have the more efficient, larger, single tank trailer we don't get the "splash zone" anymore. Maybe that part I miss a little. Sometimes increasing efficiency has its drawbacks and while I have no reason to regret my decision to purchase this, I have concluded that this sacrificing of "fun time" in the name of efficiency is decidedly unredneck like. I have no plans to revert back, but this should serve as a lesson that every decision has a consequence and all decisions should be made carefully.