Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Tails From the Farm

Kids will be Kids

When the kidlets were growing up, they always had chores. Ones within their capabilities and age suited, of course, but they had to help out. It’s an important part, of learning to be a good person. To be people who can assume responsibility, and have good work ethics. I always told the kids that when they were out in the world, I wanted to be proud of them. That I wanted to hear nothing back on the grapevine, except what great kids they were. Then as they grew, how they were wonderful, caring adults who knew what compassion and empathy were, and that they were kind. This work ethic and building a sense of pride in their many accomplishments began as I said, at an early age.
The boychild was about six, the girl a year and half younger, when we were having a usual, summer day. We were going to go and have some fun, but there were a few odd jobs to get taken care of first. I was going to fix some electric fence in the front pasture that was adjacent to the yard, and my two precocious kidlets promised they would take care of the dishes. The boy would wash. The girl would dry, and they wouldn’t handle any knives or delicate glass. Simple dishes, pots and pans, and the regular sort of thing only. They were to leave anything that might harm them, for me to do later.
“I’m right there,” pointing across the big lawn towards the pasture, I reminded them that I was close. “If you need me, just wave. I’m going to be keeping an eye out. Call me on the intercom, or come and get me. No knives, no matches, no goofing around, eh? Just dishes and that’s it, right?”
“Yes mom,” the pair happily chirped. That was one of the many wonderful things about my children. Those two kids never complained about work. They just got at it. Everything was approached with gusto, and without whining and complaining. They’d never done dishes without someone in the house to supervise before, but there was no time like the present. They had chairs pushed up to the sink, and were ridiculously happy to get at it. Kids, go figure.
Leaving them to get at it, I headed across the lawn with my bucket of fencing supplies. As I moved from post to post, checking insulators, replacing those that needed it, tightening wire, I kept glancing towards the house. I wanted to get done with my job, so we could spend the rest of the day having fun together. I was one of those parents who wished that summer vacation lasted from May first and lasted until the end of September. I would’ve loved Christmas vacation to be a month long, and spring break needed to be at least that long, too. I loved spending as much time as I could with our portable, entertainment units.
Thinking ahead to all the fun we had ahead of us, I glanced up and towards the house. To my concerned surprise, there was the boychild, scooting under the fence to hurry across to me. Dropping the hammer into the bucket, I hurried to meet him.
“What’s the matter, sweetie?” The closer he got to me, the more worried I became. I began to jog towards him, “What’s the matter? Is your sister okay?”
The poor kid looked about ready to burst into tears, “You know that antique bowl of yours?” Ignoring my questions, he went straight to what was worrying him, “That big one, mom. The antique one.”
His little hands clenched by his sides, it was easy to see that he was extremely worried. As we finally reached each other, me wracking my brain for a memory of this mysterious, antique bowl, him searching my face for a reaction, I couldn’t visualize what he was referring to. Looking into hazel eyes all welled up with unspent tears, I had to ask again, “What bowl are you talking about, sweetie? I can’t picture it. ”
On the verge of melting into a mess of emotion, the boychild’s voice quavering as he explained, it finally dawned on me. He was talking about a glass salad bowl, we used most every day.
“Oh sweetie,” figuring they’d somehow broken it, I reassured, “that’s not an antique. I bought that on sale at Woolco, a few years ago. Why, did you break it?”
“It was too heavy and slipped,” he wailed as the tears of relief began to flow, “it broke everywhere.”
“Oh sweetie,” I comforted my little guy, “it wasn’t antique or expensive either. You didn’t do it on purpose. Don’t worry about it.”
“You’re not mad?” he carefully asked, studying my expression.
“Of course I’m not mad,” I reassured, “accidents happen, sweetie.”
“Really truly,” I smiled at the adorable expressions racing across his face, “It’s only a bowl. Don’t worry about it.”
“Then,” unclenching his fists, he held out his hands to show me bleeding cuts, “I cut myself picking up the pieces.”
Instantly horrified, I grabbed his wrist, spun him around and we ran for the house together. I ran, he was more like a human-child kite being towed along.
“What about your sister?” I worriedly fretted, all sorts of horrible scenarios already playing through my mind, “Did she cut herself, too?”
“Only her feet,” he wept as we ran across the lawn to the house, “picking up pieces.”
“Oh no, she isn’t?”
“Yes,” he nodded, his expression all full of worry again, “she said we should clean up before you got back in.”
“Of course she did,” I sighed, because it was in fact, what she would indeed do.
I hurried the boychild into the bathroom with instructions to keep his hands over the sink. From there I covered the few steps into the kitchen. There I found my little sweetpea, picking up shards of glass just like her big brother had said, her little, bare feet making red footprints everywhere she stepped.
“Oh, hi mom,” she perkily said with a huge smile, “I’m almost done.” (She wasn’t.)
Seconds later, I had her sitting on the bathroom counter, poor, little feet in the sink filling with water, while I washed and checked over her brothers hands. The crying had stopped now that he realized they really weren’t in trouble, and thankfully, neither child had more than superficial cuts. I learned years later that the pair had been goofing around a bit, and the bowl a casualty. They continued to help do chores, with the occasional injury or two, and we never did replace that salad bowl. It was a casualty of life’s experiences.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB