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Another Day in the Country

Sharing a child’s world

© Another Day in the Country

If you have children in your life, you are a lucky soul. Kids bring insight, joy, playfulness, and unexpected blessings. Yes, I know they are time-consuming, sometimes annoying, and a heavy responsibility, but all in all they are the spark of life!

My kids are long grown and my one and only grandson lives half a continent away, but I’m so lucky to have cousin’s kids and grandkids in my life.

Awhile back, at the supper table one evening, I said something to our little three-year-old about how the chickens were going to like the leftovers that were on his plate.

“They are gonna fight over that corn,” I said with a grin.

Well, Clayton fixated on the word “fight.”

“I wanna see them do that,” he said a little later, tugging at my arm.

“See them do what?” I asked.

By that time I’d forgotten what I’d said about a fight. It was a figure of speech, after all; but try explaining that to a little boy.

“C’mon,” Jess said as she scooted back from the table. “You guys can talk and we’ll take scraps to the chickens.”

Predictably, the fight over the corn scraps was short and sweet. Chickens are usually like that, knowing the pecking order. It’s often kids and some adults who haven’t figured that out yet.

As the chicken squabble was uneventful, the little boy’s attention was drawn to our old cat, Marshmallow, who was making his rounds in the yard.

“What is he doing?” Clayton wanted to know.

“He’s laying down scent,” came the answer.

Another question bounced back.

“Why?”

“Well,” Jess began, and paused.

How was she going to explain this?

“You know how you like to smell things?” The boy nodded. “Well cats like to smell things, too, and they learn things about other cats in the neighborhood when they smell their scent. Marshmallow is laying down scent to tell other cats that this is his yard.” She took a breath and went on, “A cat can tell lots of things by smelling — whether a cat is a boy or a girl cat, whether they are healthy or sick. They can even tell if a cat is a young cat or an old cat just by smelling.”

Clayton was patting her on the arm to get her attention. Jess stopped and looked at him with her eyebrows raised.

“You know Jess, I really don’t like long answers,” he said with a sigh.

Well, so much for the ritual of passing down vital information from one generation to another. You’ve gotta keep it short! Their attention span is limited.

Then they were calling from inside, “Time to go!”

There are rituals that smooth the way for a child when play time is over, little things that help them make the transition from here to home.

“See you later alligator,” our little guy chants, and “After awhile crocodile,” needs to be the response. Jess found a door mat with a string of these phrases on it and promptly got it to the cousin’s kids, so now the chant can go on and on, “In an hour, sunflower; maybe two kangaroo.”

“Don’t forget to blink the porch lights,” he instructs. “And you can have your Dad honk the horn,” we tell him.

Then, this summer while I was gone, our little guy had a birthday. He’s now four! He just became a big brother, with weightier responsibility.

Jess was at their house the other evening seeing the new baby, and when she left, she started the familiar litany, “See ya later ala….,”

Clayton stopped her.

“I don’t do that anymore now that I’m four!” he said seriously.

Oh, dear! It soothed us, somehow, to know that little chant he liked when leaving; but he’s growing up and changing by the hour. He’s a year older and I’m getting older, too. I have another birthday this week.

“And what sooths me?” I ask myself, “now that I’m older?”

Is it a cup of coffee, a favorite book? For sure, it is my down comforter and a toasty wheat sock from the microwave! It’s not Pepsi any longer, but it’s still black licorice. Mostly, it’s just spending another day in the country!

Last modified Aug. 16, 2017

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