Saturday, May 31, 2008

Whose Kid Is That?

Of all the decisions I have made throughout the years, I like to think that one of the wisest was choosing to rear my children in the country.

There are also many times that I doubt my wisdom.

One of the primary benefits I can usually cite for living rurally is that I can protect my kids from some of the harsher elements of urban life. It is that very protection, however, that can sometimes cause trouble when I take my sheltered children to town.

For instance, my youngest son does not know that he cannot run out into the street. He doesn’t even know what a street is. If he sees a tractor coming across the field, he knows that he needs to avoid it. But since we live well off the county road and rarely spend time anywhere with pavement, he is completely unaware that a street poses any danger to him.

Ignorance of traffic can be a benefit of sorts as well. I always try to obtain a window seat in busy restaurants because my sheltered children are fascinated with traffic. All the city kids in the place completely ignore the cars whizzing by their windows, but my kids sit quietly and stare out the window at the unfamiliar sight.

They are not always so well behaved in the city, though. When my oldest child was three, I was browsing through a clothing store when he suddenly disappeared. I was nearly frantic with worry until I saw a fellow customer jump back in alarm, stifling a scream. There, with his head poking out from a circular rack of dresses, was my son, playing an impromptu game of hide and seek.

I have also found that sheltering the kids in the country may not provide them with all the social skills they need as they encounter people in town. This point was proven when my child pointed at the checkout clerk and said, “Do you have a baby in your tummy, or are you just fat?”

At least that episode provided a teachable moment. Some skills are more difficult to teach, such as the concept that not everyone in a city is interested in who you are or what you are doing. My kids are used to a small-town grocery store in which everyone has known them since birth. They can happily rattle on to the clerk and the customers about their daily lives and accomplishments, and they always find a receptive audience.

Thus, when we are in a large department store, I find myself dragging my daughter away from strangers that she is trying to engage in conversation. She has no understanding of why they would not be interested in her full name, age, interests, and opinions.

Managing naïve and inquisitive country kids in the city can be an exhausting experience, and it is usually at that peak of exhaustion that I begin to question my wisdom in a) rearing the children in the country, and b) bringing such countrified children to the city to begin with. Such was the case one summer when my four-year-old daughter and I were waiting in the parking lot for the rest of the family to pick us up.

My daughter informed me that she had to go to the bathroom, and I was not about to re-enter the busy store that I had finally escaped with a cart full of items. I told her that she would have to wait a few minutes, and I continued to scan the horizon for her father.

When I turned to make sure she was still there with me, I saw the sight that no mother wants to see. There, squatting by a pencil-thin tree in full view of the world, was my half-naked daughter.

She was surprised at my gasp of horror. After all, her brother taught her that when you are outside and you have to go, you simply find a tree and do your business. It’s a lesson that his father passed down to him, and it’s one that is completely acceptable on the prairies of Montana.

In the largest city in the state, however, I believe it is generally frowned upon.

Although I attempted to explain that logic to my daughter, I’m afraid that the lesson was lost upon her happy little spirit.

At least the big city provides one amenity not found in rural areas: anonymity.


Mikey said...

YOU are so FUNNY!! I love your blog. I always say if I laugh more than once on the first page, it's a keeper.
Love your blog, your pics, all of it.
My daughter has totally done the peeing in public thing too :) lol, lovely isn't it?? *smacks forehead*

I shall be back for more of this!

Ann from Montana said...

Well, better than in her pants, I think...

Bush Babe (of Granite Glen) said...

Ahhhhh!!! Too funny and too close to home. My story involves a sports gathering, a few hundred spectators and my four-year-old boy watering the hurdles track between events....

Hmmmm. Agree with Ann. Much better than wet pants mum!!


Ranch Mommy said...

Too cute!! We have some of these same issues, especially the street thing. My older daughter was raised in the city, but my baby is just now trying to learn....

Jenny said...

My son did that when he was three. At a community event at the park. I was busy actually visiting with other moms in some rare adult conversation when I turned around and there was my son, pants dropped, watering the lawn. All I could do was whip out the camera and take a picture. I'm such a bad mom. LOL!

Anonymous said...

That was funny. But I bet even city kids have done that too. :) Margie

Anonymous said...

Oh my son just did this at his preschool open house. We've been letting him "go" when we're out on our land...and I'm having a hard time explaining private outside and public outside. Thanks for the laugh!

Rene'P said...

O my gosh I just have to tell you that I absolutely love your blog and everything about it. We live in the country too and have dealt with alot of these same things -especially the talking to people in town thing and telling them too much sometimes:-) Can I add you on my fav. blogs I visit? I really love your blog!

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