I turned around just in time to see the Little Boy slide out of the wheel barrow, barefoot on the gravel driveway. The wheel barrow was clean according the wheel barrow standards; it hadn’t carried manure in a few months and had been used elsewhere in the meantime. His jeans would need to be removed before he goes into the house, mud dried between his fingers and dirt from ear to ear. “Thank God we are able to raise our children out here.” I thought as I turned back to the Little Miss who was sitting on the tractor. She’s all about cows, tractors and baby dolls right now. There she was clothes speckled with dried mud from the duck pen, sand in her ponytail that was already falling apart (again) and a face that was looks like she was eating dirt not too long ago.
I know it’s crazy to be thankful for dirt behind the ears but we are. Did you know that most people forget to wash behind their ears? Not at our house! Our kids are very involved with our outdoor work. It starts with the baby carrier in the stroller and once they can walk they are on our heels… or somewhere close by. They are always encouraged to help even when their helping is not so helpful. I’m already talking up how much fun it is to stack square bales on the hay wagon in July. They are so excited to be big enough to help with that! Yes!! They really do enjoy helping with any task at hand. Especially tasks that require a hose and/or water, the ones that can get really messy. The trick is to keep them busy allowing them to explore but not too much (if that’s possible).
That between one and a half and two years old stage can be a bit challenging at times. I’ve found myself saying things that I never thought I would ever say…ever. Things like “No! That’s goat poop!” When a tiny hand is extended to show “a-in?” (raisins) or “Don’t lick your fingers! That’s duck mud!” (after they’ve been happily crawling in and out of the duck door in the coop) Who says those things? I’ve got a little notebook that, among other things, I write the odd things that I find myself saying or that the kids have said. The potty training days have a fair amount of entries but that’s a whole other conversation.
It’s not for lack of effort to keep them clean. I don’t see any harm in dirt as long as it’s washed off at the end of the day… or before lunch some days. A pair of mud boots and room run is the best thing you can give a kid as far as I’m concerned. However, when we go to town I expect them to not look like they just jumped out of the hay loft. Unfortunately that is not always the case. This Pig Pen state is not limited to the days we are able to stay home. Nope. Somewhere between the bathroom counter and the church doors on Sunday morning the Little Miss’s hair turns from a nice ponytail to a hap-hazard whale spout of sorts and the clean faces need yet another wiping between the car and the pew.
My pretty little girl loves to have her nails painted. “See!” she’ll exclaim as she holds out a fingernail polished pink. Well, it was polished this morning, before we went out to the sandbox. There may or may not be much paint left but she’s proud anyway. Someday her nails will be as prettily polished pink before she goes to bed at night as they were when she left the breakfast table that morning. I don’t think we’re asking too much. On the other hand, I don’t want her to sit on the sidelines because she doesn’t want her nails messed up either. That’s no way to go through life.
Then there’s hand-me-downs. At this point summer hand-me-downs are either “this could be worn in the barn” or “there’s no use is saving more barn clothes”. (I am currently taking suggestions for a stain remover that actually works.) They each have a couple “town shirts” that are only to be put on as we leave the house and even those end up a mess before we get where we’re going most days. I swear if they just imagine the fun of climbing on a hay bale someone ends up with hay in their hair. It’s really quite amazing.