They started Friday morning and worked till dark. By the end of the night they were so tired they could hardly lift their arms and had a hard time getting the energy to even take a shower and go to bed. The third time I told my Oldest baby he better get to bed because he had another day ahead of him, he barely moved his lips, mumbling "I know, Mom, you don't have to keep telling me."
I said "You're right. You did the work of a full grown man today, so that means you get to start making some of your own decisions." It wasn't 5 minutes before he hauled himself up from the floor and headed to the bathroom, but I thought I detected a little swagger in his walk that hadn't been there before.
Saturday morning started early, and neither of the boys showed much energy or enthusiasm. The angel showed no mercy, and kept them moving, moving, moving. The nice thing about doing a roof is that you can look at any moment and judge your progress.
I worked at picking up the stuff on the ground, moving it onto tarps, which the boys would then gather up, drag to the dump truck, take up a ladder about 10 feet in the air, and then dump into the truck. This was the job they did when they were "caught up". I tried to avoid them, as they tend to give me mournful looks that seem to say "I'm about to die, mom!" When you take care of yourself and your property and do it right, you will spend days thinking this, but you have to just keep going. You won't die unless God decides it's your time, this is one thing I have never doubted.
When it came time for them to carry the shingles onto the roof up the ladder, I made myself go to the other side of the house. I can talk the tough talk very well. Actually watching them do this tends to give me heart palpitations, though, to I just didn't watch. I don't want to say it was harder on me than it was on them, because I know it wasn't. It's just that it is painful for any mother to watch her children doing anything so hard and dangerous without worrying about falls. Real men scoff at danger. That's what I told myself. They made it just fine, and ended the day just as tired as they were the first day, although with better tans and considerably more muscle tone.
During a break we were all sitting around, the twins hanging onto every word the angel spoke as usual. At one point we were talking about how he had gotten to where he is in the world. I told the boys that I wanted them to look at him, at his house (which is beautiful and maintained to excellence), at what he had (everything in proper working order and several rental houses), and think about where he had gotten in life. Then I told him to tell them how he grew up.
This is a true American story. He grew up on welfare, without even a loving family around him. By the time he was 14 he was digging graves and maintaining cemeteries for money. He learned how to feed himself, protect himself, and he learned that his reputation may be all he had, but that a good reputation was enough to ensure a sterling life if he was willing to put in the work.
He worked on the railroad for years, which was good money but had a cost because it took him away from his family. He learned how to be a carpenter, plumb, wire, put in windows, everything it takes to maintain a house, and bought rental properties. He kept his marriage together, missing only two weekends at home during the railroad years, no matter how far he had to drive to get home. He is blessed with a wife who is a true partner and always willing to work with him, as opposed to a wife who contented herself with spending money to keep up with the Jones', if you know what I mean.
35 years later they have a family and a life where they do not have to worry overly much about debt or disaster, because they can take care of themselves.
He also told the boys that the reason he is so picky is because there are a lot of people out there who don't know what they are doing. Added into that was the fact that when you are working for yourself you are well advised to make sure you do it right, because if you get a bad reputation you are sunk. Not that you can't redeem a bad reputation, but it takes a long time and even extra work. All the advertising in the world cannot bring in as much money as one good testimonial repeated 3 times. If you do good work, word gets around. That was why after working 14 hours he made them clean up their mess before they quit. You can put it off, but it will just make more work in the end.
We are ready to put down shingles on the third day. If you are not impressed by the fact that one 56 year old man and two 14 year old boys accomplished that in 2 days, I would lay money that you have never put on a new roof.
At the age the twins are now, I am so thankful that they have this guiding light in their lives. It is hard to trust anyone with your children when you are a mother. Even if it's someone who is like a brother to you and who you would trust with their lives. Ironically, their father basically abandoning them has actually worked out for the best, thanks to a little help from my friends. Well, a lot of help. Help that I could not offer them, being a woman.
Again I urge you to go outside, look around, and pick one of the children that you will undoubtedly find wandering around doing nothing, and get to know them. Teach them what you can. Listen to them. Look into their eyes and get to know them. Don't judge them by anything you think you might know about them, let them show you what they can be. We can save the world this way, and you can never have too many kids who respect you. Kids grow into adults very quickly, and we all have a stake in how they turn out.
Everybody starts out with a good reputation. It's up to every individual to keep it. Simple as that.