Little Matthew Logan saw his dad walking off with a load of tools. "Daddy, can I go with you an' help you?" he called from the front door.
His father smiled at the inevitable question, knowing the 'help' a six-year-old generally gives. "Sorry darling, I'm going to help Mr Randall with his fencing today. It's a long walk for little legs; maybe you can come another time."
Disappointed, Matthew waved goodbye, and meandered back to his model farm that was strewn across the living room floor. Last Saturday he had watched Caleb Randall helping his father shear their flock of sheep, and in Matthew's eyes that was the ultimate completion of growing up. He pulled a block from the toy box and fixed it up in the corner of a barn with a long strip of selotape. Then he stuck a short bit of string to it, and the plastic men were duly pulled out to round up the flock of five sheep and 'shear' them with the new shearing machine.
"That's me," he said, placing a boy in the barn with the men, "I'm rolling up the fleeces, an' that's Daddy teaching me how to do it properly..."
Matthew passed the morning with his farm set, and when his mother called him through for lunch, he looked around expectantly.
"Is Daddy coming in?"
"No, Matthew, they took sandwiches up with them," his mother explained.
Matthew climbed into a chair and asked, "May I say grace like Daddy does?"
"Alright then," his mother smiled.
He closed his eyes and began solemnly, "Thant you, Father, for this good food and your presence with us. Bless this food for the use of our bodies, Ar-men."
As they munched on salad and sandwiches, Mrs Logan suggested, "Why don't you help me in the vegetable garden this afternoon?"
Matthew screwed up his face. "I really want to help Daddy more."
"I know, but the best way you can help him today is by being obedient, and helping me."
"Kay then; I'll help you."
* * * * *
Next morning, when Matthew came downstairs still sleepy-eyed, he saw his mother slicing bread on the kitchen table.
"Matthew, Daddy's checking the animals. Let's make him a special picnic lunch while he's out," she suggested.
"Yeah!" Matthew agreed, "Is it his birthday?"
"No," his mum laughed, "It's just because we love him."
So the two of them made his favourite cheese and chutney sandwiches, and found a packet of salted peanuts and a piece of cake. Then Matthew's mum wrote a note for him to trace over with felt-tips, while she made a flask of elderflower cordial. Matthew traced each letter a different colour: 'I LOVE YOU DADDY.'
Matthew could scarcely contain his excitement as they packed it all up into a bag. They wer just in time before Mr Logan came in to collect his lunch on the way over to the neighbours'.
The morning passed quickly, and Matthew was surprised when his mother handed him a bag and announced that they would walk across to the men for lunch. She had packed a lunch for the two of them as well!
Matthew started off running ahead, but he soon got tried and walked. After they had crossed a few fields he started lagging behind, but they eventually got to the field where the two men had just started their lunch.
After they had eaten, Matthew was allowed to stay and 'help'. He cut the bracken with secateurs when they trashed the over-grown fences. He kept an eye on where the men put the monkey-wrench and collected the staples into a bag when they were straining the sagging fences.
After a while, Matthew started to get tired and wanted to go back home.
But Daddy's been working all morning, Matthew thought, and all yesterday, on those fences, and he isn't complaining. An' I haven't heard Caleb complaining when he helps his dad. It must be growed-up not to.
So he determined to be 'growed-up', and sat down on the grass to watch them.
It seemed like a very long time before Matthew's dad picked him up to carry him home on his shoulders. When they got back, his dad boasted how good Matthew had been all afternoon, and quite useful, too. Matthew grinned, and put in, "I'm getting more growed-up now and soon I will be able to help Daddy with our sheep, like Caleb does."
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