My farm boy is finally old enough to join 4-H. As in 8 years old by September 1. As in sit up to the conference table in the conference room at our club’s meeting place, follow an agenda, recite the pledges and make a motion. It is a happy day in our home.
Honestly, I didn’t think we’d get here. Preparing his Cloverbud project – aerospace – for this summer’s fair was a challenge I was not expecting. He and My Farmer are avid watchers of Modern Marvels, How It’s Made and anything else on Discovery Channel. My farm boy eats this engineering, science-based stuff for breakfast! An aerospace project was supposed to be simple.
But being the independent, opinionated, always right, don’t-tell-me-what-to-do child that he is . . . well, we struggled with the 15 minutes it took for him to complete a short lesson in his project manual and design a space craft out of cereal boxes.
At one point with my frustration level on the rise and his already peaked, he shouted, “I hate 4-H!”
What?! What’s that?! Can’t be possible Because I loved 4-H . . . hindsight being 20/20 and all.
I hated the speeches and my parents’ insistence that if you signed up for a project it is going to the fair no matter how many all-nighters you must pull the week of the big event in order to finish something you knew was coming for a year now. . . ahhhhhhhh, yes . . . youthful lessons now fully understood as an adult.
Anyway, I’ve been puzzling over my son’s disdain for an organization that gave me so much. As a mom, what do I do? Push him into something knowing the benefits will come, but knowing he won’t understand that because he is eight. He understands pbj sandwiches, ice cream runs and tractors.
Well, last night was our first club meeting of the new 4-H year and my farm boy rolled in enthusiastically clutching his completed enrollment forms. We had spent some time in the afternoon on the porch exploring the Illinois 4-H Clover and the fairbook to determine which projects he’d like to take. I banked on the crops, electricity, tractor care, robotics and aerospace projects. But then he said, “What about a cow, Mom?”
This former 4-H cowgirl almost busted. “Really, Bubba? You’d want to take on a cow. That’s big responsibility.”
He looked me square in the eye and with all seriousness proclaimed, “I know. I’ve been waitin’ for that.”
As I sat in bliss on the porch picturing a bucket calf jumping around our non-existent cattle lot, I heard my farm boy on the phone.
“Papa, can you call me when you get a chance? We need to talk about getting me a cow for 4-H.”
Let the life lessons begin – all of them – good, bad and the ones full of cow-pie.