I’m going to aim to post on Tuesdays for the summer, and then again on either Thursday or Friday. Quiet is a bit harder to find around here when school is out. Although I’m getting better at maintaining a train of thought in between door slammings and Lego negotiations, it has it’s limits. I’m attempting a zen kind of peace about the whole thing by trying to go with the flow.
The kids have not yet come down off the high the comes from the end of school and summer’s arrival. They wake up eager to plan adventures and get togethers. Mention of tasks requiring physical labor produce disbelief. A sense of rising injustice follows quickly. Right on the heels of that a disorientation sets in (always against their will). This allows them to forget what they were told and divert to something more pleasant.
See you Tuesday . . .
The human aversion to forced labor is alive and well here. Boy two is extremely tired of bringing in wood for the stove and has been since somewhere between the first and third loads in the fall. I assigned him a partner mid-winter to try and inspire his efforts. I looked out the window the other day to discover that the reason he had not yet returned with a load of wood was that an archery lesson was in session. He was immensely proud of himself for occupying his (and Girl two’s) time so well.
Having a partner has not increased the dedication to the task. However, it has made the task diversions much more pleasing. On his cheerful days, he lets Girl two ride on top of the wood stack and is setting all kinds of records as to how much time one can take to fill a wheelbarrow with wood, run it across the path to the house and unload it. The girl on moving wood stack method makes me nervous but months in, so far so good. I tell myself the snow would prevent a concussion should there be a toppling.
It was only after I snapped this picture that I saw the egg container perched up on top of the wood. I made them both promise to never balance eggs with the wood and they swore it was only for when the wheelbarrow was standing still and they were doing a lesson.
We started summer on Saturday with a coughing, hoarse Girl one and a UTI for Girl two. After we saw the Dr. I asked Girl two to call her father and tell him she had a urinary tract infection but had medicine and would be ok.
Daddy, she said proudly, I have a urinal confection but I have medicine now so it will be ok.
The picture of bakery counters filled with urinal confections has hit my funny bone. When Girl two reaches 13, she’ll be hard pressed to find an acquaintance who doesn’t know about it.
I wanted to start the summer with a bit of gusto and I didn’t want to wait until Boy one was finished exams so I organized a cleaning party for Monday. When I called my friend to ask if I could hire her 8 and 10 year old to come work with us, she thought I was crazy. I might be, but that was not the point. The bolstered troops announcement was met with much enthusiasm here. By the end of the morning, my downstairs was strewn, but our porch was clean and ready for summer use, the driveway was full, but the garage was swept and tidied. The kids were happy, and content to play for the afternoon. By dinner, it was all put away. If I am crazy, I stand by my insanity.
Yesterday I discovered that Boy two took to cough drops sometime in the winter. I found wrappers strewn throughout his treasure drawer. With no shame he admitted that he eats them for candy.
In the afternoon, we went to the library. Our library is a restored one room school house, an old stone building in the middle of the country. Our first summer library outing was another cause for rejoicing.
Boy two and Girl one hit the car after with books in hand and disappeared into couches and chairs as soon as we got home. Girl two begged miserably for a playmate to no avail. She leapt with excitement when Girl one finished her book after an hour or so, only to be ignored as Girl one walked past her to the library shelf to get a new book. Applesauce came to our rescue. Girl two made it for dessert, spun the spinner herself and chose her own spices.
Yesterday, I had to stop the car on the way home from Boy one’s exams so he could baptize the weeds with his lunch. I wish I could say our exam taker is toiling endlessly. He is toiling mildly. No sweat, but one hopes the heart rate of the brain is elevated ever so slightly. He has two exams left to go and then he will join our book loving group of manual laborers. The thought no doubt delights him.
And that is the state of our nation.
We don’t get things for the farm that we can’t eat. Pigs not fun anymore? The freezer awaits. We aren’t in France, so horses have been out. Until this year. Somehow a burning desire to give kids a great birthday equalled Misty. You really haven’t lived until you have picked up kids from school, driven them home and sent them to the barn to meet the horse they thought they were never getting.
Besides in-edibility, I didn’t want a horse because they’re scary. My research said that our kids would be able care for the horse themselves, so I put this aside. Even more compelling is the common knowledge that pioneer children raised ponies unaided from the age of 6 or 7, but I didn’t depend on history. I did research.
Here’s what the research did and did not mention . . .
1. Thirteen year olds can take care of horses . . . if they have grown up with horses, understand them, and are comfortable taking authority when the horse disagrees.
2. Ten year olds can do a lot . . . if they don’t develop sudden onset terror of horses and refuse to leave the house on threat of torture or a trip to Goodwill to donate all their Lego.
3. You’d be surprised what an eight year old can do. . . you’d be surprised too, how contagious that sudden onset stuff is.
4. Five year olds can’t do much. I agree.
We had a choice. Give up on the best birthday present ever or get re-enforcements. This is how it stopped working that I only saw the horse from the kitchen sink.
Learning and working with thirteen year old is showing me a new side of him. We’ve never done anything like this together. We listen to advice from horse people, then try to apply it with Misty. He needs me, but he can do things I can’t. There’s nothing to argue about because we’re on the same team. More than anyone else, it is he and I that are spending the hours. Seven or eight extra hours in a week is a sacrifice for me, but it is for him too, and he isn’t complaining, so neither am I.
Eight year old was back on board the second I got involved. And she can do more than you’d think. Ten year old was delivered grumbling to mandatory horse lesson this weekend. Yesterday he helped with Misty for twenty minutes. This equals previous compliance times ten.
The hardest part, I tell my husband, is leading team horse, when I’m still afraid of horses.
You’re afraid of Misty? That’s so funny. She doesn’t bother me at all.
Says the man who only has to look at her in the field from fifty feet away because we need his time to do other things.
Originally, that was supposed to be my job.