Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Feral Kids, Summer Edition
According to the Internet, the average American child spends four-to-seven minutes per day outside, and seven-plus hours in front of a screen. That statistic took me aback when I came across it a few days back.
Meanwhile, I just picked my kids up from the fencing crew when I took lunch, where they were on shovel and staple bucket duty. Upon reaching the house, they left the pickup at a dead run and shed clothes all the way across the yard. Undies stayed on – that is more coverage than last summer’s wardrobe choice. They’ll have a job this evening gathering them all up and magically restoring the laundry pile I’ve been working on all day.
Their destination was a stock-tank pool. Which they cleaned yesterday, then strategically drug over to the edge of the trampoline before putting the plug back in the bottom and filling it, all by themselves. They somehow drug their toy plastic slide onto the trampoline, over to the edge, and have been sliding and belly flopping into their pool at eight-minute intervals ever since. Every eight minutes they come and stand in the doorway for a while, then beg for an icee or ice cream sandwich before heading back out.
The youngest, at five, gets up about six each morning, and immediately goes outside to take inventory of her kitties. She will wander around the yard packing a cat by some appendage for a half hour or better before congregating them onto the porch until I tell her they have to go back outside.
The oldest, who just turned seven, groggily joins an hour or more later, and they rummage through their garden for peas and carrots to munch on until they make their way back to the house, stand with the door open for a while, then ask about breakfast. At which time I get an update on all things cat, garden, weather and Dad related.
I caught them putting the foam baseballs one got as a birthday present into the DeWalt leaf blower, then launching them for the kittens a few days back. The yard wagon has a scraggily old rope tied to the front, and kids, cats, dogs, and more will randomly go by, being pulled an equally interesting group. They’ve gone through four bike tire tubes since it warmed up last spring.
The youngest helped combine wheat, and proudly showed me what every button and switch in the combine was for. Come to find out, what most would call an air freshener is actually to kill the mice… The oldest has started driving the pickup in four-low, fourth gear, and helps move machinery. If he gets in pickle, he knows to turn the key off and wait for help.
So it goes for most rural kids. To all of us it is normal. But, in the grand scheme of things, our children live a unique and blessed life. They spend more time letting flies in and cold air out the door each day than most kids spend outside in the same time period.
We are also unique as parents in our ability to holler, “You have x-number of acres to play on outside. Get going!”
For me, that makes this dry, grasshopper infested, windy, impressively hot summer more than worth it.
It feels like fall around here. The trees are starting to change, we went from 100-degrees to the mid 50’s in a matter of hours last week, and the weather has been dancing back and…
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