My parent's farm is a wonderful place to visit. Especially with Julian and Nora. They are in a constant state of awe. From the moment they step out of the car, you can see the sense of freedom register on their faces. They can run, and jump and play without constant direction from us - because there is just so much space and it is so safe.
There is, however a dark side to farm life, that I remember quite well from my youth. Farm children learn about death at a young age, whether it is from losing pet dogs to a variety of vehicle mishaps (must explain that one in a future post) or running over a toad with the tractor (by accident of course), no one had to explain death to me.
We decided to bring the children to the farm for a sleep over this week, and we were inundated with insect/animal deaths:
Experience #1: We were roaming around the barn, and Nora was busy playing her favourite game of "throw pebbles into the grate". I walked over to the grate, peered inside, to find a dead bird at the bottom. I told my mom to come and take a look. Of course, Julian followed and said: "What is that bird doing?". We all just looked at each other, unsure of who was going to break the news, we all silently decided to move along and not discuss it.
Experience #2: There is a huge greenhouse on the farm, and one of my FAVOURITE hobbies as a little girl was collecting the unfortunate butterflies who made their way into the greenhouse, but couldn't find their way out. They die in the heat under the glass, and dry beautifully. My mom brought out a box of butterflies for me from the greenhouse during our visit (see photo), and again Julian said: "What are the butterflies doing?". Silence.
Experience #3: We had managed to avoid the "death talk" through the entire visit, and were about to go into the house for dinner before the two hour drive home. Julian was walking up the stairs to the porch with Grandpa, when I heard Julian say: "Grandpa. What is that bug doing?" then I heard STOMP! Grandpa smooshed the bug with his (very heavy) work boot. Julian was in hysterics: "I wanted to see the bug!!! Grandpa killed the bug!!!". Needless to say, we didn't have to explain that the bug was dead, and Grandpa has learned that his grandson is all city...
On a lighter note, a few sweet pre-bed words from Julian tonight:
"Mommy, I will always be with you, and I will always take care of you when things go wrong."
I have no idea where a 3.5yr old comes up with this stuff... but I'll take it.