Thursday, November 19, 2009

They're Not Tougher Than They Look

I recently read an article about the thousands of children, some as young as three-years-old, that were taken from their families in post-World War II England and sent to work as farm laborers in Australia. My first thought was, "What a horrible story. Those poor families!" My next thought was, "Holy shit. My kids wouldn't survive two minutes if they had to work as farm laborers."

One Fall, after they raked some leaves (from our one tree), I endured days of hearing: "My shoulder hurts. Why does my shoulder hurt so much when I move it like this? Did you see this weird bump on my hand? What is that from? Man, my shoulder still hurts. And I think all that raking gave me a headache."

They even tell me about the nuisance injuries like paper cuts, hangnails, or a bruise on the shin. Usually, if they show me an especially fresh wound, I'll put a little salt on my finger and say, "Where? Right here?" while firmly smashing my finger onto the cut. You'd think that would discourage them from ever telling me about anything smaller than a compound fracture, but I've had no such luck.

Maybe I'm being a little hard on them. In the past, the boys have played several tennis matches while enduring sore feet, fatigue, and stiff legs. I've sent them to school with scratchy throats and dry coughs, only to have them return at the end of the day miraculously healed. All three of them have dealt with their share of scraped knees and elbows without having to take a trip to the Skin Graft Store. So, despite appearances, maybe they really are tougher than they look.

While I was standing in the kitchen hunched over the child labor article, Charlie came walking in with a pained expression. I waited for the woe filled tale detailing his injury.

"Man, as much as I like Pixie Stix, eating them is such a pain because the end of the paper straw gets all wet with spit and you end up wasting over half of the sugar!" He could barely get the words out.

I just stared at him, thinking that if Australia still needs some kids to be laborers on their farms in 2010, they probably don't want to be swiping them from my suburb.

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