One day when Jiro had a day off, he decided to paint the window forms of his house. As he was climbing up the ladder to start painting, his five-year-old son appeared. "Papa, can I help?" he asked. Jiro was about to tell his son to go and play, because the work was too difficult for a little boy, but he said instead, "All right, you hold the ladder steady."
The boy gripped the ladder with all his might. After a little while his father had another request. "I need a little brush to paint in the corners. Will you go and get it for me?" It would have been faster for Jiro to go and get it himself, but he waited until the boy brought it.
Upon returning the boy again gripped the ladder. Then it was necessary for them to move the ladder. To do it alone was difficult for the boy, but he did so without asking for help.
Later it was necessary to go to the kitchen. Jiro needed a rag to wipe the window, or he was thirsty. Each time the boy was delighted to go for him. Each time he came back and resumed his grip on the ladder. It never occurred to him that the ladder was perfectly safe even if he were not there.
When the windows were finished, Jiro got down from the ladder, wiped his hands and then stood for awhile looking at the freshly painted windows. Then he said,"Well, the two of us did a pretty good job, didn't we? His son, bursting with pride, agreed with a big smile. "We sure did."
That day Jiro did far more than paint some window frames. He taught his son what it means to be needed. And he also taught him the meaning of responsibility and the joy of a job well-done.