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Called into Service

Ben is my youngest, the one who (blessedly) slept through the night at two weeks; who at age five was looking through a picture book one day and when he came to a page depicting the Great Pyramids, immediately exclaimed, "Mommy, look! The Giza plateau!" He remembered it from a video we'd watched six months earlier. He does that sort of thing.

His experience in first grade was one of the factors that led me to start homeschooling him (along with Paul) beginning with the next school year. He was languishing, becoming bored and tuning out. "We're at square three," his teacher explained, "and he's at square fourteen." So he grew up here with Paul, doing experiments of his own devising, learning from what was around him, listening to endless hours of classic books on tape. Ben's a History Channel junkie who can tell tell you all about WWII or explain the evolution of weaponry. He makes a great pancake (from scratch) and plays a mean video game. He can quote Scully's 'half a cream cheese bagel' speech verbatim... and a lot of other lines from the X-Files and a variety of movies. He's a mediator by nature, something close to my heart; he's the one to diffuse disagreements by pointing out to each party what the other one is actually saying.

Unfortunately, over time his inherent INFP tendencies (he's spent a lot of time exploring different subjects, but has no ambition to do anything with the resultant knowledge) have kicked in and he's become rather proud of his self-proclaimed status as the king of procrastination/laziness. His motto is taken from that Despair.com poster that says, 'Hard work often pays off over time, but laziness always pays off now." Paul, ever the motivated and organized guy, keeps nudging Ben, telling him he needs to come up with a marketable skill. Ben's response has been to assume that he will... when he absolutely needs to and not a day sooner.

However, over time Ben has become our resident computer hardware/software techie. He's been tinkering with computers for years, taking apart old, unresponsive units (he hooked up a second hard drive to a dying computer we had to 'jump start' it, and it worked; I think he was eight or nine at the time), poking through files and programs, trying this and that, and in the process has gained a lot of firsthand knowledge. So recently when a friend asked if we had anyone at our house who could take a look at her work computer, which was having problems, I volunteered Ben.

Ben's immediate reaction was to say that he's no expert, but I pointed out that since he knew a lot more than my friend, undoubtedly in the course of things he'd end up sharing any number of valuable little tips with her that she'd been previously unaware of. So Thursday we went to her office, where the computer issues were soon resolved and Ben came away with an easy $25. Then my friend asked if Ben would come check out some problems she's been having on her home computer, so this afternoon we did just that. Two hours later the problems were resolved and Ben was awed to discover, once again, that a casual session at someone's computer, doing nothing that he could possibly label as 'work' or drudgery, had netted him what is to him an impressive amount of money.

I think he could get used to doling out his expertise this way. And who knows? That cultivated laziness may fall by the wayside at some point, overtaken by other, more pressing concerns.


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