We were walking through the freshly painted walls that were already soaked with that poignant smell of pigs when she learned something new about her kids and their childhood. As my sister and I watched the sows deliver piglets at the new Fair Oaks Farms Pig Adventure a few years ago, we reminisced about adventures on our family farm and with our dad. “Remember when dad made us scoop up the stalls after the baby pigs were born?” I said. Before my sister could even respond my mom exclaimed, “he made you do what?!” Since his passing she has learned a few things we did with dad that she was unaware of at the time.
Even though I might have protested at the time, I’m glad he made us clean and scoop manure and more from the stalls. I’m glad he made us stand with the piglets while he gave them their vaccinations (that screaming still rings in my ears when I think about it). I’m happy he walked us through the woods to show us all the creeks and hollers so we could create our own adventures when he kicked us out of the house. I’m proud of my childhood and all the blood, sweat and tears of playing and working outside - it made me a stronger and more capable woman.
I’ve had multiple conversations lately about how kids don’t go outside enough and they are too hooked to their screens. “When I was their age, I was outside, doing chores and working!” - that’s the standard quote these days. As a new parent I have thought a lot about this a lot. Mae is about to crawl and she is curious about everything around her. I don’t hand her the toys or her pacifier, if she wants it she can get it. When I’m in the car, I talk to her about what she is seeing through the windows and what is going on in the world around her - I am not focused on my own thoughts or phone. I’m trying to teach her, even at a young age, that it’s not all about her and what’s on the screen isn’t as important as learning about others and discovering and improving herself.
It’s funny that we get mad at our kids and the younger generation about being lazy and selfish, but didn’t we buy their phones and create their participation trophies? They don’t have the money to buy the phone and didn’t create the trophies - we did.
So send the kids outside this spring. Take away the phone and video games you bought them and tell them to use their imagination to create their own adventures. Their moaning and groaning will only last for a short while, but their character and work ethic will be impacted for a lifetime.