Once upon a time there was a baby girl named Jordyn. From the first days of her life she knew dogs, cats and horses. When she was barely six months old she sat upon a pony and grinned in delight.
As she grew up in the city, with things to fear like strangers, violence and being alone, she also came to the country. In the country even as a toddler she played alone in the back yard without fear of being abducted or hurt. She spent time in the barn following her aunt and grandmother as they did their chores. For a time, she was terrified of cats, although we have never determined a reason for it. But she would play her solitary, imaginative games as work was done. Sometimes, mimicking the cleaning of the stall, sometimes wanting to help scrub water buckets, she observed the work around the farm and wanted to take part.
The summer of Jordyn’s second year, I was lucky enough to have her come to the farm three days a week. Ally was working, going to school and it helped on day care costs. I had taken some time off and would not start my new job until October. Kena (the Doberman)was a puppy, Jordyn, a toddler and we all ran like children that summer. Lauren and I helped out at the Davang’s farm and Jordyn went with us each day.
We all worked hard, cleaning stalls, sweeping, filling water buckets and Jo played her games in the aisle way or “helped us”. One day a new load of hay had been delivered. Jo always had her sippy cup in hand on those hot summer days. I knew she was playing over by the hay but obviously was not paying enough attention. Lauren and I looked up to find Jordyn had crawled up the hay bales to the top of stack, probably 15 feet off the ground. She was sitting quietly on her high perch with her sippy cup still in hand. I still don’t know how she managed it.
Jo learned her way around horses. She learned not to get too close to their back ends and to run like crazy to safety if Mickey was headed to the barn at a gallop. She learned to give them treats and groom horses. Jordyn made her first barrel race exhibition when she was 18 months old. She had her entourage of Aunt Lauren, both the Davang girls and their horse Drifter. She was great.
Jordyn and Kena grew up together that summer. I know Kena is a better dog for the time she spent tolerating the small child. Somewhere along the line, Jordyn learned to like cats as well and now Chloe Cat is one of her favorites.
What more do you need but your pony, your cat and your helmet?
Kids growing up in the suburbs or city, must be aware of the dangers. They must understand not to get in a stranger’s car or let a stranger in the house. The environment gets compressed and simple things like soccer games or cheerleading take on much greater proportions than perhaps they should.
I am grateful and appreciative that this child got to learn to be a kid, a farm kid. One that can make up stories, entertain herself, enjoy a walk in the pasture and love animals. When she came this last weekend, each time we left the barn for the house, we had to wait while she bestowed one more kiss on the neck of Mr. Kid.
Perhaps this is the most valuable thing I will give my grandchildren, this gift of the farm, the animals and being comfortable playing outside. Perhaps they will never see my gift for what it is and desire computers, video games and endless “inside” entertainment. But I will know I have given them the best I had to offer.