The Second Kind of Help

This blog post is part of a ChicagoNow network wide “blogapalooza” wherin any ChicagoNow blogger writes about the same topic provided by our community managers.  Only catch is that we don’t get the topic until 9 p.m. and have to publish by 10 p.m.  It is ON, baby.  Today’s topic:

Write about a time you helped someone, or a time that you received help.  

“The second kind of help,” is a phrase my husband taught me about.  The origin actually comes from a Shel Silverstein poem called, aptly enough, “Helping.”   That bald headed freak Silverstein was a genius, save for his completely awful and misogynistic, The Giving Tree (but that right there is a whole other blog post).  Here it is:

Agatha Fry, she made a pie
And Christopher John helped bake it
Christopher John, he mowed the lawn
And Agatha Fry helped rake it

Now, Zachary Zugg took out the rug
And Jennifer Joy helped shake it
Then Jennifer Joy, she made a toy
And Zachary Zugg helped break it

And some kind of help is the kind of help
That helping’s all about
And some kind of help is the kind of help
We all can do without

Helping, Shel Silverstein

The point of this post is that we all know some of those Zachary Zugg characters.  You know the type.  They mean to help, are always ready, willing, and able to help, but somehow, their help is not so helpful.  It’s the second kind of help they provide.

Some of those Zachary Zuggs might even be wee little ones that we are charged to raise and parent for life.  One of our jobs as parents is to turn our little Zachary Zuggs into Jennifer Joys and Agatha Frys.  And while that sounds like I am pushing a transgender agenda, I’m not — not that there’s anything wrong with that — LGBT FTW!

Okay, so the second kind of help with the wee little ones.  A perfect example is kids in the kitchen.  I know that better moms than me have an amazing capacity to have their little ones help with dinner or baking projects.  Ugh.  I suck at that.  I really do.  I try, but rarely succeed.

Mary Tyler Son gets his little apron on and we sidle up the Learning Tower to the kitchen counter.  I have already laid out all necessary ingredients like flour, sugar, butter, and eggs.  There is nothing that could go wrong with a two, three, or four year old and open containers of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs, right?  Right.  It never fails that the moment, the second, the instant I turn my back to rinse a bowl or grab a paper towel, BAM!  POW!  KABLAMMO! All hell breaks loose under the guise of wee little Mary Tyler Son “helping” by pouring flour, sugar, butter, and eggs all over the damn place.

The Learning Tower, or as I call it, "The Throw All Your Junk When You Walk In the Door Tower"
The Learning Tower, or as I call it, “The Throw All Your Junk When You Walk In the Door Tower”

See?  The second kind of help.

As a parent, part of the gig is to harness the child’s wish to help, that real honest and goodness need to help, into actual help.  It takes time and patience.  And more than a few broken eggs all over the kitchen counter.  And so, our Learning Tower gets cleared of coats and purses and diaper bags, and Mary Tyler Son gets to help.  Or, you know, “help.”

Being a parent is a tough gig.  There is much to master and the stakes are high.  Like, really high.  Like, you want to produce happy, healthy, contributing members of society high.  That’s pretty high.  And part of that means learning how to tolerate the second kind of help without a scowl or a sigh or an eye roll.

Like I said, this parenting is a tough gig.  Just remember, though, that it’s our little Zachary Zuggs and Jennifer Joys and Agatha Frys that will be helping us someday.  And we definitely don’t want the second kind of help then. Best put the time in now and teach our kids how to provide the first kind of help.  The good kind.

I’m gonna go clear the junk off our Learning Tower right now.

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