We came out to the good ol’ country to farm sit for my parents while they take my two oldest and visit my brother and his family out of state. Sounded like a sweet deal, I love this place! It’s where I come to unwind. It’s where the simpler things in life prove to also be the finer things in life and things get a whole lot easier to figure out. Something about fresh country air, extreme traffic reduction and a spotty internet connection at best, to take your mind out of the city, whether willingly or not. It’s a small farm a few goats, a lot of chickens, more than a handful of rabbits, a few dogs and enough garden beds to yield seasonal fresh produce for a couple. With high hopes and expectations my two year old and I embarked on this journey to relaxation, connection, and hopefully a few days packed full of writing time.
Sam, you see, is a chatter box but, there doesn’t tend to be a whole lot of dialogue with him. My kind of companion when I want to unwind. Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk, love a good conversation. I’ll chat it up with the best of em when I’m comfortable and there is something worthy of chatting on however, all that chatting can drown out your inner quiet and sometimes I really need to get in touch with that inner quiet. That’s what helps me keep sane in a world filled with boys, football, and constant house messes.
We waved good bye to the boys and the grand parents in an uncharacteristically painless goodbye for Sam. He adores his “bubbas” so I was prepared for a much more emotional goodbye. But no. “Bye bubba”, he cheerily chimed in as they rolled down the drive way beginning the first leg of their journey. “Wow, this is gonna be great” I thought to myself. Until I put the cheery child down. Immediately he runs, to where I don’t know but he’s running with all his might and this booger is fast. So fast I often question God’s humor when attempting to chase him while being six months pregnant. Who am I fooling, I question His humor trying to chase Sam in any shape and not being pregnant at all.
Sam, oh so adorable full of joy Sam, loves the animals. Miss Belle, the momma goat, loves him too. She isn’t the friendly type but she loves this little boy. Kisses him as he enters her pen and all. He eats it up as much as his attention span can handle then he’s off to chase the turkeys while I complete the daily chores to include milking the goat. He’s great while trapped in the goat pen.
Thank God he hasn’t yet figured out how to maneuver the latch open. But on we go to feed the chickens, goats, rabbits, and gardens. This is where it gets crazy, in and out of the chicken pen, of course letting chickens out while I try to get a handle on their water. With a sigh I embark on chasing after the chickens now as well as my terror of a two year old with a two second attention span. He carried in a bucket of scratch with the task of spreading it around the chicken yard for them to enjoy all day but that was quickly abandoned in favor of “Meow” otherwise known as Mouthy, a name which she comes by honestly. Chicken gate wide open he runs for the back door to get Meow’s food because I am apparently not getting to her fast enough. That or he just remembered her himself, what with her incessant calling and less than subtle demands for food. Anyway, gate and doors wide open he emerges with a can full of food to divvy out into her bowl, again leaving the door wide open. I eye him as I put the lid on the water container for the chickens and glance upward with a quickly mumbled request that only the one chicken escapes until I can get to the gate and prevent the whole flock from getting out.
Watering task finished I race to the gate thankfully preventing anymore from escaping. Figuring the best tactic is to coax the chicken back into her pen by means of her avoiding me I come around the left while Sam catches on way too quickly and comes around the right giggling excitedly and eyeing the chicken with ornery intent in his eyes. “Bock bock?” he looks happily at me while pointing to the poor hen. Trapped, the chicken darts away from the pen and toward the house with the open door. “Shoot!” I had forgotten that he left the door open. I run for the door barely acknowledging the possibility that the cat had gotten in, I had bigger concerns at the moment. Door safely closed I head back at the chicken and seeing me come toward her she darts again toward Sam, and faced with a pickle yet again changes directions. Getting the idea I abandon the chase for chicken in favor of the chase for the child. Finally catching up with him I swoop him up and begin the attempt at herding the chicken yet again, only this time without the “help”. Shwew I wipe my brow which has already begun to drip sweat by eight am. Not because it’s hot, or because I set out to get a workout. I should have because as previously mentioned my shape would dictate that I should, alas this is not the case. Mouthy emerges from under the deck into a decidedly calmer yard now that the chicken is trapped and I again wipe my brow but this time in relief that I won’t have to chase the cat from the in into the out.
“Ok” I think to myself as Sam wiggles out of my grasp and plants his feet on the ground…well they were planted for about half a second before he had decided on some other mischief to get into. Sometimes watching those wheels turn and his feet spin reminds me of a ping pong ball set loose by a breeze in a rat maze. “I haven’t had coffee yet and we both need to eat, should I head in for breakfast or water while it’s still cool?” I asked myself. Being that Sam was running at warp speed for the front gardens I made a quick decision to water. “Yeah, this is ok” I thought “he can play with the dogs while I water, we can do this, this one will be simple”
Ever heard the saying; “Famous last words”? yeeeeaaahhhh.
Ok so maybe that is a bit dramatic but I set out to water taking it a garden bed at a time while Sam set out to rediscover the GIANT “pet” spider affectionately named Charlotte who resides in the key hole of one of the gardens but, owns the front yard. I am much like my mother you see, I do not like spiders, however mom, being a teacher, couldn’t pass on the teachable moment for her grandchildren when they discovered the much smaller yet still large spider a few months back. The grandkids took initiative to catch grass hoppers and throw them into Charlotte’s web then sat back and watched while she wrapped the bugs in her web. See this next part, this is why spiders are bad. With extreme interest and curiosity those boys sat back on their heels and watched her suck the blood out of the insect, watched the ball of web shrink, and the spiders abdomen grow to engorgement with each bug they fed her. You’d think this would be an exaggeration but, I regretfully advise you it is not. After first researching that it is in fact a garden spider and not poisonous mom decided it could stay until it decided to move on. With great misfortune we are faced with the fact that Charlotte has not decided to move on, she has decided this place which fulfills her every desire for a mostly effortless life is the perfect place for her so she has built and rebuilt her web and grown, and grown, and grown. I have deduced that the only reason she is allowed to further reside in her habitat of total comfort is that she has grown much too large for mom to even consider moving let alone killing, that would be like stepping on a mouse or a rat at this point and come on, that’s nasty. We’re talking giving the spider some space is the lesser of two evils here. Have I mentioned that I do not like spiders? When I have to water this bed I give her a healthy five foot minimum girth. Anyway, as I contentedly relax and water the okra at the end of the yard I hear Sam’s cute voice, “Ewww? Eeeeeewwwww? Mommy, ewwww?” I look up and see Sam about a foot away from the spider and inching closer with his index finger stretched out toward Charlotte. “NOOOO!” I yell as I simultaneously drop the hose and run for him.
You know what this means right? I have to get close enough to this giant spider to grab the kid and keep running hopefully not touching any web or spider in the process because, “eeeeewwwww!” It’s a terrifying thought but around here spiders tend to jump, not all but, some, and I haven’t learned if it’s only a specific kind or if all are capable but, the ones that do are lightning fast and they really do jump. So every time I see a spider I have this little nugget of information in the back of my terrified mind, again with the questions of God’s humor.
I have no idea how I made it to Sam as quickly as I did but, thank God because seeing the terror in my eyes this kid smirked and took yet another step forward, but his plans were thwarted as I scooped him safely out of danger, and backed away from that evil creature with the kind of speed I had previously been of the impression only red bull can administer. “I can’t breathe. I gotta get this kid to bed. It has to be at least eleven o’clock by now right?” I reasoned with myself. Dragging him around to water with me, devising plans to keep him with me, I allowed him to water for me…or maybe he thought I said to water me whatever the case, he stayed away from the spider for the duration of the watering process.
With a sigh of relief we climbed the stairs up the deck on a new mission to get some breakfast, or was it lunch by now, and hopefully get this kid down for a nap. He of course ran the entire length of the stairs making my heart skip a beat with every step because every time I saw his little foot fly up to the next step, I was sure he would trip, or miss the step entirely, and come tumbling all the way back down. I even saw it happening in my mind however, somehow his little feet carried him all the way up no tripping in sight. So he continues running, bursting through the door with wide eyes looking for his next adventure. I stumble in behind him thankful that chores are done for now and glance up at the clock. My jaw hits the floor, “Nine am!?!? That’s all?!” I set out making some coffee and getting this kid set up with some food when the ever present pressure on my bladder can no longer be ignored, I must pee. “I’ll be quick. He won’t even notice I’m gone.” I reason. As I make my way down the hall I say, “Just a second baby, I’ll get you some breakfast in a minute ok?” He responds with a, “Huuuhh?” I shrug my shoulders and continue on my way while he plays with his “pew pew”, otherwise known as a foam dart gun, in the kitchen. It’s not ten seconds later I hear a huge crash followed by crying, not hurt crying but offended scared crying. “No, no, no what could he have possibly gotten into now?” I yell down the hall “Sam? You ok baby?” I’m greeted thankfully with a whimpered “yeeeeaah”. What seems like an eternity later I run down the hall, struggling to get my shorts over my ever widening derriere, and come upon a scene that makes me just want to melt into the floor. This sweet angelic child of mine had climbed up the case of water to get to the box of fruit loops on top of the microwave and somehow in the process brought the microwave, and the numerous items housed on top of it, crashing down. Bags of seeds, packets of sweetener, boxes of Cheerios, Fruit Loops, granola, bread, hot sauce packets and the microwave itself all lay strewn about the kitchen floor. With no other option I begin to pick things up, with his “help” of course. I hand him a container to put the spilled Cheerios in and begin gathering the sweetener packets and seeds. About half way through Sam abandons his post in what I assume is the need to pee as well. The assumption isn’t entirely an unintelligible thought since he runs off yanking on his built in pull toy, as he is often known to do. Nope. He meanders into the living room this time holding the box for the game Sorry. “Oh man come on, can a momma get a break please?” I grumble and am yet again met with an innocent “huuuh?” He’s either spent or doing everything he can to test my speed and agility, I suspect this because when he refuses to stay still for a more than a few seconds at a time it is usually in an attempt to stay awake. I cannot put him to bed this early that always makes for a terrible mood. How in the world do I get him to stay in one place while I clean this mess? Enlightenment strikes. Duh! I pour a bowl of the desired Fruit Loops and milk and let him have at it.
I’m about finished cleaning up the mess as he finishes his cereal, thank God the Fruit Loop granted peace has lasted this long. “Ok Sam, go pick up the game” The wheels begin to turn behind his contemplative eyes and he darts the opposite direction out the back door grabbing a basket on the way out with a mission to gather the eggs. My sighs are occurring in quicker succession with increased intensity. The mess is mostly cleaned up as I abandon my post and run out the door to make sure he doesn’t go smashing eggs. Out the back door I go after him catching the gate just as a chicken squeezes out again. Again I sigh. “Later” I mumble and move forward. Finally he stops and waits for me…I’ll keep telling myself that he was waiting for me and not that he cannot open the nesting boxes without my help, which I later made the deafening discovery that he in fact can, as he scared me and that poor unsuspecting hen half to death with the slamming of the door. I open the box and he squeals with excitement as he sees three eggs in one box and in a surprisingly gentle fashion gathers them and places them safely in his basket. I allow my shoulders to drop for a second as I move on to open the next box and sigh again only this time it is with a bit of relief. That is until he begins running and bumping the egg basket with his legs on his way to the other chicken house and nesting box. “Sam! You have to be gentle!” He slows down and reaches the next box, followed by the same scene as before playing out on the way back to the house.
Once back in the house it would be far too simple for him to hand me the basket and allow me to place the eggs where they belong, so he takes one egg out at a time and hands them to me to place on the counter, done! I move on to finish picking up the sauce packets and cereal. Again done! “Finally I’m getting somewhere” I think as I turn around just in time to see him wring his hands around an egg that he has silently and gingerly plucked off the counter. Tears nearly burst forth as I see the egg white and yolk drip down his hands and splat onto the floor. I hand him a napkin and plead with him to clean it up, he does. Ok, I still need to eat, I open the fridge and opt for…eggs. Turn around to grab a pan and yet again he’s out the back door chasing, what is that? And realization dawns as I remember the chicken that got out of the pen. I press pause on my breakfast yet again and head out back to catch the chicken. This time I’m learning and I first scoop Sam up then chase the chicken. I don’t know how much more of this I can handle I think as I once again pen the chicken and naively set the child’s feet on the ground.
All at once he’s gone again, off to see the rabbits I soon discover. And a good thing because they’re probably hungry too! It’s not that I forgot about them, ok well, maybe a little, but this time thank God for Sam’s never ending curiosity. Sam seems to have mellowed out a bit as he converses with the rabbits so I walk around noting who needs a refill on their water and opening their food bins to replenish them. As I walk around the cages I take the water bottles out, take the lids off, and place them on top of the cages to be filled as I make my rounds with the hose. This is going pretty smooth, Sam is entranced by the small spheres on the ground under the cages. Admittedly not the first thing a mother wants her child’s attention to be drawn to, but his attention is calmly consumed so I am not looking that gift horse in the mouth. Food filled, water bottles filled, I just need to replace the lids and bottles. That’s when I notice Sam merrily following behind me chatting up the bunnies and pouring the previously filled water bottles into their water bowls. Sigh, ok we start again with the water, this time I cap and replace them on the spot. Sometimes assembly lines make more sense, other times, like in the presence of a two year old it’s best to finish it all at once when at all possible. Thanks to Sam the rabbits are now happy so back inside we head after some gentle coaxing and bribery via sweet treat. I glance up again at the clock and am pleasantly surprised to see that somehow time has begun to move finally and it is nearly eleven o’clock. Ok I think, fill his cup, fill a plate with whatever I think he will eat, plant him in front of some cartoons, we’ll both eat and finally we can both nap…we both need one today. Oh my how I need a nap today! I get him settled in for lunch and miraculously he sits still and eats, zoning out to Curious George, his favorite show.
I know I need to eat, with the morning that we just had I’m too exhausted to make something for myself but, the little one nestled compactly in my expanding belly is making it known that he has been deprived in all of this even more than the bunnies. My hand drifts to the curve of my belly and I begin to slap together a ham sandwich and plop on the couch next to Sam. I realize as he zones into Curious George and I zone out of reality and into my thoughts that I haven’t had time to write let alone think. “Hmmm something about that country air to clear the mind” I smirk to myself. Before I know it he’s leaning on me and asleep. Somehow I muster the energy to carry him to his bed before carrying myself to my own bed. I rest my head on the pillow and begin to reflect a bit, all the while knowing that how I spend these precious few moments of him sleeping is all I will get accomplished this day…I drift off peacefully knowing to savor it, and right now sleep is the best way to do just that, because when his feet hit the floor in an hour or so, we will start all of this all over again.