Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sorting out swordplay

Danger

Last night Beren picked up "a sword", actually a big whitish stick, probably a tulip branch. At times, he called it a "light saber" (source:  kids at school who watch movies). At turns, he wore a "lightning suit" and used his sword to shoot lightning up into the sky. He told me he was going to hunt deer, and perhaps at this age he'd learn to do that but just a hundred years ago or maybe less.

The three of us wandered into the woods along a favorite trail we cut by frequent travel. We passed a mossy boulder nestled into a small wedge of mesic woods at ledge of the mountain before it descends to the road and then another couple hundred feet down to the creek.

We reached "the raspberry tree", a place Jared and Beren found. There, a tree was wrenched from the ground by wind or disease. At the top of the root ball in the mineral soil exposed by its fall, a purple flowering raspberry seed found purchase and germinated. Below it, and closer to the ground, is a red elderberry, about two nodes high. Plants, how do they know the perfect place to be?

From atop the fallen bole, Beren asked, "What time is it?" You don't yet need to know what time it is, my little one. Be free of the tickling ticking, tick tock tickling your sense of being. "It's dusk. The time when the sun has slipped behind the mountain, but its light is still strong. Dusk. Just before night."
 
Dusk painted itself darker blue, and we went down the mountain beneath a canopy of arching witch hazels, yellow in foliage and flower.

Back at home, Beren resumed his swordplay. In the darkness, I could see, but better hear, the sticks he and Jared swung. Click clack. The sound of a father teaching through play a skill a child might need. Defense and offense. Everyone needs to eat.

So often we think of fighting as barbaric. Sometimes it is, and can be unfair. When I look at the root, I sometimes see a human element suppressed - the need to hunt for food. Blood is usually on someone else's hands and land. The bloody hand probably don't own the land, they're there for a paycheck. Everyone needs to eat.

And if adults can fight (or "play fight" as in sports), why can't children? Because they don't know better? Perhaps they know better than we do! Closer to the earth and their biological needs, perhaps they know what's coming, or what would have come, if they were still directly reliant on the earth.

Who am I to suppress an ancient element with a nagging voice, "Put that down! Be careful!" No fighting!"? I wonder about the aimless, rage soaked ways of today. In cultivated, modern life there's hardly danger that activates human cunning and skill. Sports, sure, they are ways to hone energy, skills, muscle, and bone, and to use excess energy, and create camaraderie, competition, and maybe laugh. What about stalking the fields and forests, looking for food, following signs of predator and prey as you'd be both, reading the plants as they'd be your life's blood.

So, I'll guide my child through saber play, dreams of police and firefighters, and fast vehicles, allowing his swordplay as he defines good and evil, food and hunger, all for himself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gender Agenda

 Puppy Dog in his bed

At a recent birthday party for one of Beren's friends, I asked a Mom if her son and daughter were different, along gender lines anyway. She affirmed, and we chatted on the subject the way two people getting to know each other might. We agreed we'd been hands off, not pushing trucks or dolls.

The gender agenda might be pushed in other ways, ways I might not like to admit. Last spring, Beren picked out a pair of socks at Old Navy. They were bunny themed - red, white, and pink (girl-like). I hesitated and said sure. He tears through socks, literally (like a boy).

One morning Beren selected the bunny socks as he dressed himself for school. I hesitated, this time a bit longer. The gender agenda presents itself. What if someone tells him pink is for girls, I wondered. Would he be surprised? I wonder this, too, when Beren happily gobbles vegetables. WOuld you like some greens? "Yum yum! Yum yum!" he says. What of the time he hears, "Ew! You eat that?"

Some of his friends are less interested in girls, according to one mom. Beren, on the other hand, hasn't really shown a preference yet.

I showed him some of his infant clothes recently, we exclaimed over how tiny they were. Impossible that they'd fit such a big kid. I mentioned they'd fit his plush toy "Puppy Dog". Beren wanted to dress Puppy Dog in his baby clothes, so we did.

Beren gently dressed Puppy Dog and asked me to carry Puppy Dog around. Then, Beren took a turn. So carefully, so gently. "Here is Legos, Baby. They are very fun. Legos are not for babies because they put little things in their mouths," Beren said as he showed the baby around.

Later, he made a bed from on old wine box, lining it with soft blankets. The following morning, Puppy Dog came down the steps hitched up on Beren's hip. "Here's Puppy Dog, Momma. Let's give him big cuddles." Beren put Puppy Dog on my lap and we gave that sweet little baby a hug.

I really enjoy being a mother. Each day brings something new.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Who's farm is this?

Background:  Jared watering the swamp milkweed. Foreground: Allegheny blackberry my Mom and I potted up.

"Jared's farm." I occasionally, but memorably, hear this phrase. The speaker is more typically male, but at times is female.

My reaction ranges from an inward, "Huh." or "Hm." My reaction might be an inward "That's f*cked up." or "That's amusing." Outwardly, I may say nothing, or I may subtly let the person who just talked about "Jared's farm" know that Jared's farm is also Rachel's farm. I wouldn't bother trying to give Beren a share of the farm, too. Not at that point anyway, because if someone doesn't notice that Jared is working with at least one other adult on a regular basis, I doubt they'd recognize a child's contribution.

Not that I'm getting haughty (b*tchy or maybe sophisticated as an old friend used to say), but let's be honest, my blood pressure is elevated at the moment. Perhaps the speaker made a mistake, an honest mistake. But really, here I am, driving a big *ss truck, and I'm dirty. I'm working on the farm, "our" farm.

Ya wouldn't say "Jared's house", would ya? Nope, 'cos I live there, too.

I'm glad to let Jared rig up a connection between the walk-behind tractor and a dump cart. I'm happy that he enjoys running the flail mower. I'm very happy that he tinkers with our website. He's probably just as glad for things I like to do around here. I'm glad for our camaraderie. Our shared labor, expertise, and intuition allow for things to happen successfully.

I'm somewhat tempted to list the power tools and two cycle engines I can use. Maybe list the stewardship plans I've written, the highly technical GIS resources that I could access to help inform management decisions. The stupefying number of invasive plants I could identify and manage. The various hats that I wear around here. That might seem like I have something to prove. Nobody really likes someone with something to prove. And yet, here I am boxed into a corner.

I like the idea of complementary roles, around the house, inside and out. We'd hardly get anywhere with out complementary roles. So, thanks, Jared and Beren, for rigging up the dump cart so we could load the firewood I cut yesterday. Couldn't help myself. Now you know part of my curriculum vitae on the farm.

I'm not even sure how I feel writing this. Irritated. Embarrassed. Unsure.