When I was young, I stayed at my grandparents’ on their small farm while my parents worked. I really enjoyed the company of my grandparents and my uncle, who stayed with them.
If you live on a farm, there are always different jobs to be done — and for a young boy, there is plenty to learn.
Sometimes while doing a job, granddad told me to stand back and watch. The next time he would explain what he was doing and show me the hands-on method. Oh, I made my share of mistakes but I learned from each of them and hopefully did better the next time. Granddaddy could be a little stern and might say a few words that I can’t repeat in this column, but I knew when I did a good job: he would pat me on the back and say, “Well done, my boy.”
This summer, my grandson has been staying with us on several occasions. He has been a lot of help since I had to have my gallbladder surgery earlier this summer. He lives in a subdivision and he and his sisters enjoy the open space and adventures our little farm provides. This week, he mowed my grass and pressured-washed my deck. Of course, I had to give him a few pointers but he did a great job on both.
Each evening, after he got through with his work for the day, we went fishing or shot skeet. The fellowship we had together was good for both of us. Why, I had to give him an attaboy each time he busted one of them clay targets or reeled in a fish.
A lot of times, when all my grandkids come to see us, they like to drive the tractor or four-wheeler, when it’s running. They even help me work in my gardens and sell at the farmers market. I try to teach them like my grandparents did and theirs before them and that is, to get your work done and then enjoy a little recreation. This is a good balance of life for all of us.
I know the kids today like to sit around and play on their devices, like phones, computers and other electronic things. These devices have their place but I think some parents let their kids stay on them too long. It might be a way the parents use to keep the kids occupied or just keep them out of the parents’ hair.
During this pandemic, some families are together just about every minute of the day. I’m sure there are times when they get on each other’s nerves. With all that’s going on, a lot of folks — including kids — have a lot of anxieties and even depression. The ABC stores are doing a booming buisness and I’m sure there is some child abuse in our communities. A lot of churches have not been able to hold regular services and their youth programs have not been able to meet. Everyone’s social skills are hard to keep, being six feet apart and having to wear face masks.
So, what do we do to keep our sanity during these tough times? I think the first thing to do is pray and ask God to be with us during these troubling times. Second, we need to stay busy, either with manual work, brain exercise and of course a little recreation and physical exercise.
For those who have children in the home, an example for the mom would be to teach your kids how to cook or even clean house. Read stories to your younger kids and encourage your older kids to write short stories. Help with their school work. Play games with them and use this time to teach them about how life can change at the turn of a hat.
For you fathers, take your kids on a hike and teach them about nature. Play ball with them. If you have a shop or a skill, teach them to use their hands. Let them mow the grass and work in the yard, even wash the car. Plant a small garden and allow your children to help, starting with the planting all the way through the harvest.
I hate to admit it, but a lot of children think food grows in the back of a grocery store. Encourage your kids to do the best they can with their work and play. Above all, give them a pat on the back or attaboy when they accomplish or improve on whatever they set out to do.
Remember, kids who never have to earn anything will appreciate nothing.
J.A. Bolton is author of “Just Passing Time,” co-author of “Just Passing Time Together,” and just released his new book, “Southern Fried Down-Home Stories.” Contact him at email@example.com.