Friday, May 14, 2010
An age old picture
As I was driving down the road today I passed a mennonite woman working in her vegetable garden. Close by was a little girl playing with her toy wheelbarrow. I love this picture...it's one that i've seen before, it's one that mirrors my life growing up and the one I live now. Last year I went to my Amish friends home to watch the tobacco harvest. It was such a neat thing to see. I watched the tobacco grow all summer, and then I watched my friends put it away for drying in the barn. The part of this picture that I love so much is seeing them working away, and their two littlest girls sat on the barn floor digging into a whole watermelon...their diapers were drooping and the watermelon ran down their faces. Anna (my amish friend) and I often talk about how our kids like to try to do what we are doing in their own little ways. We need to invest in little brooms, buckets, and garden tools. They want to help! This is a picture from across time. I can imagine the pioneer women working the land with their children playing around them. As the children get older, they want to do what their Mommies are doing. They do it in their own way first, then, as they are more skilled, they help, eventually they are trained to do it on their own.
I am not the kind of person to sit still. I am always moving. It is hard for me to sit down through the day, when there is work to be done. However, my house is usually a mess. I clean it, but the kids work faster than I do. Someday my house will be clean. The things I busy myself with, especially in the summer, are vegetable gardening, canning and freezing, baking, and whatever else I might decide to take on. Sometimes I hear.."how do you get that done when you have kids to care for?" I've come to realize that what comes natural to me, is actually the picture I described earlier. I love to work....with my kids close by. I love to be with my kids, but I usually expect them to be playing close by, while I work. Sometimes, in order for me to accomplish something I have to set my kids up with their own little work...identical to what I am doing. Every one of my kids followed this routine. I can remember Ashley being one year old, wanting to scrub the kitchen floor with me. She had to have her own brush to dip into the water. Jacob always had to have a broom. When I bake, I like to let them "help" me. Sometimes I have to tell them that "watching is helping." That is frustrating to hear when you're a kid, but watching pays off! I remember baking cinnamon buns for the first time on my own after I got married. Since I had only "watched" growing up, I was amazed at how well I remembered what to do!
It's funny how you can go into a toy store and see toys of every kind....recreating big people things...but in kid sizes. Kids want to do what they see mommy and daddy doing. Children who watch their parents work hard, will know how to work hard when they are big. As I planted my garden this week, I watched Emma (5) dig her hole to plant a tomato plant. I remembered how Ashley started out like Emma, and then, by last year...she began to "take over" my work. She had learned how to do it the way I did. I could trust her to take the laundry off the line and fold it. She cleaned the house, washed dishes, gave baths to her sister, planted my flower beds...and so much more. I remember feeling akward when I realized that she could do it as good as I could...and that she was taking my jobs!
I have a little way to go with Emma and Grace. This week we made bread. They needed their own dough to work with. I let them have it, and left them work. Later, I found bread dough everywhere, and flour too! I didn't mind the mess though...it kept them entertained, we spent time together, and I got to do my baking! Emma told her teacher today that her mommy lets her make a mess..."she says we can always clean up a mess!" Thank-you, Emma! So, bring on the messes! And let the learning continue!