“Get back to work!”October 30th, 2011 by Diane Fish
If you were to ask one of our children to recite our family motto quick as a bunny they would rattle off: “Get back to work!”
(A close second would be “No one was killed” but that is an entirely different post!)
Yesterday while friends of mine were taking their kids to a corn maze, my children were using the loppers to cut down a chunk of the corn patch and feed it to the cows. The girls were more than happy to be part of the farm waste stream and stood at the fence bawling encouragement to the loppers. As my kids were doing this they are letting me know that they are not enjoying this family work activity in that way the kids have. Mostly they were saying things like: ” Why can’t we just visit a corn maze…like normal people?” “You know Mom, there are actually people that buy milk instead of making it.” (For the full effect, please read the quotes aloud and roll your eyes on the italicized bits!)
As they were doing this I began thinking about the difference between our household and those of many more mainstream folks. In our household, because we grow our own food, produce our own dairy products and preserve and can excess produce to eat during the winter we differ significantly from the cultural mainstream. Most households are consumptive in nature and ours is productive. Having this type of household requires a shift in thinking – seasonal thinking – what do we need to plant now to eat in July thinking!
Raising children in this type of environment also requires a shift. It means we have conversations with band directors about fundraising (“My kids have jobs…can they just contribute their own money rather than selling wrapping paper?”) and youth group leaders (“My kids know how to do hard physical labor, so if you are going to plan an activity for them, perhaps it should involve meaningful work, rather than just making them sweat!”) It also means that my kids have skills and are responsible in ways that their peers may not be. They do know how to work hard, and the work they do matters to our family. If you need three cords of firewood for winter and you help split and stack it, your work keeps us warm. Picking 50# of green beans or digging 100# of potatoes means we have veggies for the entire winter. You see the fruits of your labors on the dinner plate.
Now, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I keep telling them that they are better off living in a family that cuts corn for the cows and harvests pumpkins to “put up” for winter! When you visit a corn maze you PAY for the privilege! Here you get to do it for free AND it feeds us! How cool is that?!