My kids are weird.
Whew! I got that out of the way! I love my kids. They’re really, really good kids! My kids just aren’t normal kids. At least they aren’t normal based on today’s standards. A hundred years ago I’m sure they would have been normal, run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter kids. But not anymore. My kids are weird. But, I’m okay with that. I might even encourage it. They have seen more and understand more about real life in their few short years than many adults.
You see, my kids are country kids.
I grew up in town. No…not in town, in the city. I grew up in Dallas. Well, in the rough, tough, suburbs of the northeastern corner of Dallas county, anyway (please take note of the sarcasm dripping off that statement!). Dallas…it’s currently the ninth largest city in the United States, the fourth largest metro area in the United States. That is, according to Wikipedia, anyway. My grandfather’s (my mom’s dad) family were sharecroppers. My grandmother (my dad’s mom) grew up on a farm. I visited my great-grandparents’ farm a couple times per year until they died…I was in elementary school. My uncle and his family lived in a rural area north of Dallas for a while. I visited them every once in a while. More importantly, I heard all his stories…about the chickens, and dogs, and coyotes. I might have been a city girl, but I knew all about “country” stuff. I was sure I had experience.
But I had no idea.
Did you know that meat doesn’t actually appear in the refrigerated section at the grocery store through some sort of magical process? I didn’t. Well, when I actually thought about it, I did. But, like most people, I never had to think about it.
What about fruits and vegetables? Most people grow beans for some sort of science project in elementary school, but that’s the end of food production…they rarely think of it again. Many folks never think about the work that goes into producing enough for your family to eat for an entire year. I know I didn’t…but my kids do.
We moved out here, and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. I had no idea what I was getting our kids into. I’m glad we did it. Our kids are better off because of it. But, our kids are most definitely weird.
Our kids eat their vegetables.
Gasp! That one little fact probably makes them weird all on its own! They don’t usually even complain about it…as long as no one did anything silly to the vegetables, you know, like cooking them. They prefer them straight out of the garden (see number 8 on this list). I don’t think we even managed to get any of our peas into the house this year. The kids ate them straight off the plants for “outside snacks”, as Monkey called them.
Now, don’t try cooking their precious vegetables…that is ill-advised. Don’t try to heat up canned peas and tell my kids to eat them because you’ve heard they like peas. They will look at you like a cow looking at a new gate…and then absolutely refuse to eat whatever it is you just served them (it certainly wasn’t peas!). Cooked carrots? Forget it!
Our kids are homeschooled.
This is probably why they don’t realize that our family is a little bit different than most. They get plenty of time to play with other kids, don’t get me wrong. But, they’re not around the same set of other kids every single day like they would be at school. We teach the things that we feel are important, not what the state tells us to teach. We set high standards for what they learn.
Most preschoolers learn about farm animals from picture books. Our kids don’t just learn how to point them out in a book. They learned that cows are huge. They know that big brown one ain’t a cow…and not to mess with him. There’s a difference between a cow and a heifer, and my four year old can tell you all about it. Eggs come from hens, not from roosters, and even my 2 year old knows how to tell the difference. Pigs really do enjoy a good wallow in the mud, and if there is no mud available, they will make their own! Our kids know all about farm animals, and they know how to treat them, and how to behave around them.
Our kids pull their weight
Now, some of them weigh more than others, and we certainly make allowances for that. But our kids have to work. Most of the time, they actually enjoy it! When I say it’s time to clean our bathroom, Bear jumps up and says, “Ooh! I’ll clean the potty!” No, I’m not making that up. I actually did it myself this past week, and she honestly got upset with me. There are certainly household chores they don’t enjoy, like cleaning up their rooms, but they are learning to do them anyway…like it or not.
All the kids have a blast helping their daddy with his work outside. They go with him nearly every night to lock up the chicken coops and pull water for all the animals. They help as much as they can. When Daddy is out planting the gardens, the kids are right there helping him out. They help pick the vegetables once the plants start producing, too. Once the vegetables are picked, they help wash and sort it as well. They know what goes into making the food they eat, and they probably have a better appetite for it!
Our kids understand that death is part of life.
This made me a little uncomfortable at first, but our kids have a very healthy view of death. Without death, there is no life. They understand where their food comes from. They feed their food apple cores…our latest set of pigs recently went to the freezer, but we sure went through a lot of apples while they were living in the barn. Our children know where the pigs are, they understand…but they aren’t upset by it. It’s just part of life. We take care of our animals, and when the time comes, our animals take care of us.
Many kids find a lot of blood and gore in video games. Fascination with these types of things, while often disturbing to adults, is (to a certain degree) part of healthy development. Our children don’t need video games…they’ve seen their dad slaughter chickens to feed his family. It’s certainly not a pleasant task, but in our lives, it’s a necessary task. Our kids understand that, and they’re blessed with an understanding that these animals have fulfilled their purpose.
The understanding of death gained by our children through their involvement in food production also prepares them for the death of loved ones as well. They aren’t frightened of the concept of death and they understand what it means. That means we can intelligently discuss our beliefs about what happens to people after death on earth. My Granddad (their great-granddad) recently passed away after a year of confinement to a nursing home due to dementia and a hip injury. When we told the kids about it, they were able to process the information. Of course they were sad, especially Bear who remembered what he was like before his dementia got really bad. But, since they already understood death, it allowed us to concentrate on the life that comes after death. Without death, there can be no life.
So, there you have it. My kids are weird. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
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