Coming down the stairs, I noticed that the rain had stopped, so I called to Johnny to come work outside with me. He was at the kitchen counter struggling to grind wheat by hand. He followed curiously. Standing on the porch, I felt more than saw that it was still raining, or misting rather. A lazy trickle dripped from the porch roof.
At this point, I wasn't sure if I still wanted to work out in the fields--spreading manure is what I had had in mind. We got our rakes out of the shed and then had the options of acting on our plan--or going with Dad to get hay in the rusty ol' pickup. But by now, Johnny was hooked on the idea of working in the field. So we said goodbye to Dad and his pickup and marched off through the misty rain to the left front pasture.
As we began our work, it became apparent to me that 5 year olds don't have to pause for breath when they get talking. Even though my arms and ears grew weary, it was interesting to hear all the deep thoughts and strong opinions that rest inside the mind of a 5 year old. First of all, after working for about 20 minutes, I got loudly told off for taking a break to (as he put it): "you're stopping to look around and--(demonstrates by cocking hip and planting a fist on it)--staring at the trees and stuff while I'm working. I think I'm a better worker than you."
I knew I should've been insulted by his little mock demonstration of me 'staring at the trees' (I wonder where he learned that??), but I couldn't help my smile so I turned away to hide it and told him to get back to work.
After about 40 minutes, I asked him if he wanted to go in. "What?" he responded, shocked. "We have the whole pasture to do!"
Now it was my turn to respond with a shocked, "What?!" After a long period of reasoning, I got the little workaholic to narrow it down to the front left pasture, though I was still doubtful of finishing it, since it was already around 5:30. He went on to explain to me the importance of spreading the manure, how we're helping our family and our animals by helping the grass grow better.
"Mary, do you want the animals to DIE?"
"No," I muttered, entertaining images of having the little slave driver do the whole pasture by himself.
"Well, then KEEP WORKING."
"And stop complaining!"
As we worked further down the pasture, the real reason for his hard work ethic started surfacing. You see, his brothers have started teaching him how to play tackle football (I know, already!) and I suppose, naturally, he's not so good at it, yet (though, he didn't altogether admit that). He's been toying with the idea of: 'embarrassing Michael by tackling him to the ground!' I told him it's wasn't nice to wish embarrassment on his brother. This threw a monkey wrench in his plan... momentarily. "He won't mind that much, Mary," he explained. "He always tells me to try as hard as I can."
The other reason he was demanding that we worked longer and harder was because he: 'wanted to marry a nice girl who liked him for his muscles (cough, cough) and he would work really hard for her on their farm to make her happy' and he 'wanted to practice now' so he could 'get the big muscles'. "And besides Mary, all we did today was school and card wool, we HAVE TO do more work. It's our punishment for not working hard enough today!"
Speak for yourself.
"Excuse me, you can punish yourself if you'd like," I told him. "I'd rather just work until I'm tired, thank you."
Suddenly, the back door opened and Lizzy's head poked out with the announcement: "Annie's apple pies are done!"
"Okay!" I told her. "We'll be in soon."
Suddenly, little Mr. Do-The-Whole-Pasture-Tonight spoke up: "We can't come in, we still have to finish this pasture and it's going to take a long time!"
I looked at him shocked. Johnny? Turning down fresh hot apple pie?!! Who was this kid anyway and what did he do with my brother??
He giggled, adding, "Probably at least an hour!"
Lizzy closed the door before I could correct his outburst. "You might be out here for another hour," I told him. "But I'm going to get some apple pie while it's still hot."
"No you can't," came the bossy reply. (!!) "We're gonna finish TONIGHT, okay?" Another lecture followed about the importance of work, of spreading manure, and of not complaining, (I thought lecture giving MY job?).
By now, I had noticed that the misty rain had soaked through my clothes and his. It was the type of rain that did its wetting job without you realizing it had happened. Our hair was wet and stuck together in pieces. Drips formed at the end of each piece, sending an occasional drip irritatingly down our faces.
"Your hair is wet," I told him.
"Oh, who cares?" he replied without stopping.
I shrugged. "Is mine?"
"Uh, a little, but it doesn't matter. Keep working."
I finally marched in, with him following me protesting the whole way. Though, I think he enjoyed his slice of pie every bit as much as I did mine.
Well, I have that same 5 year old nagging me to come work so I will be chatting with you all later. Thanks for sharing in my 5 year old experiences. They are truly adventures, each and every one! If I could, I would record each adventure in a giant, red leather bound book and treasure it forever. After all, they won't be 5 for long...