Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Parental Guidance

Once in a while your kids will do something to make you think you aren’t so bad at this parenting thing. Last week was that time with Isaac. Earlier in the week he was left in charge of chores for three days, it was one of those life altering days when Dad finally realized that Son was old enough, mature enough and big enough to leave in charge. That and because of doctor’s appointments, Farm Bureau meetings and his sister’s surgery, Dad didn’t have much choice.
Not only was he left in charge of the chores but it also rained leaving the barnyard and surrounding pastures and roads mucky and muddy, further complicating his assigned duties. Now don’t get me wrong, he has done the chores many times and has been in charge before, but never for three days straight. The night before I briefed him over and over until I finally got the “I know Dad, you have told me at least five times” response.
We may all cuss our constant connectivity but I really don’t know how my parents did it. Of course maybe it wasn’t so bad not being able to text or call anytime and from anywhere. I am fairly confident Ike did not respond to my texts for an extended period of time on purpose. Even though he swears he responded as soon as he got it.
I probably deserved it. One of his assigned duties was to feed cows. No problem, he has done it many times. The only complication was that we did not have a tractor at our house, the pasture feeding area was muddy and our feed pickup is, well, somewhat fragile. By fragile I mean, old, beat up, and held together by baling wire and duct tape and about to fall apart. It needed to be handled delicately to survive until the new, used, tractor was to be delivered.
Did I think Ike would deliberately tear up the pickup? No, of course not, he is a really good driver. The feed pickup has some quirks and it takes skill to know where it can be driven and how it should be driven. We all know skill is gained by experience and most of that bad experiences and I just did not have time for any bad experiences leading to a breakdown.
To make a long story short (which is really unusual for me) I made at least three nervous texts and one phone call to “see how things were going”. When he finally responded it was to tell me that everything had gone well and the cows were successfully fed, the pickup was still in working order and I had nothing to worry about. I should have never doubted him.
A couple of days later I again called on Ike to do chores. His sister needed to be into the school early, still could not drive and I had a couple of errands to run. Buoyed by the success of his earlier run, he and I both had confidence in his abilities. Around 9:00 that morning Dad called to ask if I could run by and help him get a bale into the heifer pen. No problem, it would be right on my way to pick up Tatum, everything would work out OK.
Right as I had reached the point of no return, Ike called. He had a ewe who had gotten down, prolapsed and was not looking good. I had to come home to help. I explained that I had to help Grandpa and pick up little sister; there was no way I could help, at least for the next 45 minutes. I told him he would have to figure it out on his own.
That was the longest 45 minutes I have spent in a long, long time. I called a couple of neighbors to see if they could check on him but I could not reach them. Dad and I got the heifers fed without any escapees and I picked up Tatum and we headed home, not knowing what to expect. Ike was nowhere to be found when we arrived.
Soon he came down the road, driving the feed pickup with two dogs on the back. He jumped out of the pickup with a smile and told me the crisis had been handled. He had found a prolapsed spoon and fixed the prolapsed by himself, given her a shot of anti-biotic and finished chores. I went to the barn to find the ewe relatively alert, prolapse free but most importantly alive. He had figured it out; maybe he had paid attention over the years. Most importantly it was an milestone for both parent and kid.

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