This is my 8 year old’s normal.
It’s probably not your normal. That’s ok. It’s certainly NOT a perfect photograph, but it is a perfectly accurate snapshot of our life and the stuff in it that brings me joy. Here’s what I love about this photo.
1. There is not a single electronic device present. This isn’t to say that Ry doesn’t enjoy access to computers and tablets and gaming systems. He does. (Which some days result in EPIC battles of wills.) You’ll notice there are none here.
2. That impish little grin is a completely genuine one. No faking it for the camera…just pure uncontainable, “I’m not too cool for this” joy. I hope he never outgrows not being too cool, but the realist in me is painfully aware of the possibility that these days may be numbered. I’ll take them while I can get them.
Here are the things you may not see.
That after working all day, at 7:30 p.m., my honey drove nearly an hour away (Still finishing up work calls on his earpiece the entire time) to pick up a bottle lamb and back and didn’t complain. Literally, pulled in the drive, sucked down a only marginally decent cup of coffee and loaded right back up to leave again. We were both so over the day that we elected to not clear the tools out of the truck to make room for a crate (they will just have to be put back tomorrow anyway) so that lamb rode 48 miles on my lap. That my kid had gas station convenience store deli fried chicken for dinner without a vegetable in sight and didn’t get to bed until well after 10. On a school night.
You also don’t see that he did three days worth of homework without complaint or battle pre-embarking on our mission because Monday’s never gets done on Monday (Cub Scouts) and Wednesday’s doesn’t get done on Wednesday if it’s an auction week, and it is. So it’s a Tuesday triple, which happens more often than I should probably admit to.
That pink topped Playtex bottle you see there has been so well used, it’s nearly lost it’s pre-printed design and seen countless orphan goat kids and lambs AND three dishwashers come and go. (And the occasional human grandchild, don’t judge me, the aforementioned dishwashers have a sterilize setting) The man-child holding it may pretend to be incapable of independently constructing his own chocolate milk, but he can rattle off a recipe from memory for homemade milk replacer like nobody’s business.
You don’t see the 10 miles of giggles after I was presented with figuring out if that was lamb “happy tail” or pelletized poo striking the leg of my jeans…(poo, of course). Or the 20 miles of uncontrollable laughter from everyone after our wooly charge expertly unleashed a stream of something warm and wet that ran directly down the leg of my jeans and into my shoe. (Because nothing is EVER funnier than Mom getting peed on. Except Crap, and that was a done deal already)
You don’t see him staying up to make sure the new baby is comfortably settled in the mud room, pulling and hauling on stuff way too heavy for his tiny body, all the while extracting promises that only he gets to do the morning feeding.
You don’t see him counting the contents of his piggy bank before bed in preparation for Wednesday’s auction because he knows that sheep and goats are herd animals and he fears his new charge might be lonely, and it’s no more work but more profit to raise multiples. And you have never seen him raise a bidder number at that auction (and get taken seriously, the auctioneers all know him by name and that he means business) then plunk down his very own money for something he needs or wants, with no wires, bells, whistles or graphics but instead, something with yet another chore attached.
Or that he knows it’s ok to name this one, because as an intact male, he won’t be gracing our dinner table, but not to get attached because when he reaches an age that bowling for children becomes a sheep sport, he’ll be off to auction.
And most importantly, what you really don’t see is my terror that life like this is vanishing. Someday, (in some places even now) this is not ok…that someone has decided it’s not normal, or even legal. Sobering thought, isn’t it?
Well, until that day comes…and if it ever does in my lifetime it will be met with kicking and screaming of epic proportions, this IS our normal. There’s a loose baby lamb in my truck. My kid didn’t eat a balanced meal, is out way past bedtime on a school night, and there’s animal crap in my pant cuffs and urine in my shoe. Child labor is alive and well here, but it’s not forced, it’s called work ethic and I’m grateful my kid is learning some. Our family vehicle smells like lamb ass, and there’s livestock living in the entry to our home. And we’re all smiling.
Normal is just a setting on the dryer around here. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
*** For reference purposes, I’m attaching a link to another blog where I originally found a recipe for homemade milk replacer for lambs. We have been using it ever since, I have not bought a bag of commercial type since finding this recipe, and have not lost a single lamb. So it’s worked famously for us.