Back in Arkansas our projects continue. The very first time I visited Arkansas a fire was involved. At that point in my life, fires were something to be avoided at all costs, something scary and dangerous, the only fires I saw growing up were in fire places. So at the age of twenty five when my soon to be husband took me to met his grandparents in Arkansas I was not sure what to think when “burning the brush pile” was on the agenda of our visit. Coincidentally, this first fire took place behind Addie’s, my husband’s family gathered together to clear out the damage done by folks who had been renting the sweet old house and then set it all ablaze in the back yard. Is this good for the environment? No. Is this how they do it in the country? Yes. Is it exciting? YES!
We made a burn line so the fire was unable to jump into the forest and we manned different parts of the fire armed with shovels, our faces covered with masks or bandanas, ready to smother any fire that looked uncontrolled. I thought the whole thing was wonderful, the purposeful work, everyone coming together to help, the efficiency of the fire. I didn’t think years later we’d replicate almost an identical scenario with our own little family but that’s exactly how it happened. Over a decade passed since that first fire and in the meantime, Addie’s house was ignored, brush grew and took over what once was a meadow and fruit orchard. From time to time a family member would drop by and attempt to control the overgrowth, cutting brush and piling back in that same spot in the back yard, over the years the pile grew and grew. When my husband and I decided it was time to tackle this pile it was mammoth. We called in some help, waited for the right conditions, grabbed a little diesel and a lighter and got started. The kids categorize this day as “the best day ever”. They covered themselves in soot, helped light fires, fanned flames, smothered errant flames, burned the bottom of their boots, smiling and sweating all the way. They felt powerful and helpful and they were! It was the type of experience we hoped our kids would gain in Arkansas and they are ready for more.
Over a year ago I did a post on what 6 and 8 looks like and it’s something I find myself going back to read over and over. So before these years pass me by here’s a snapshot of 7 and 9.
My 9 year old daughter now poses for pictures, she talks about how the zoo offends her, “I mean what if you were a lion, do you want a million kids passing by and tapping on the glass while you are bored out of your mind?!?! It’s just wrong.” She’s ready for more independence, walks around the neighborhood by herself, bikes to the park on her own, wants more time with her peers. She still likes a hug first thing in the morning. She still has her brother sleep over every night on the couch in her room. Tears have started to fall for incomprehensible reasons, she calls these moments growing pains and it’s terrifying when I consider adolescence in this force that is my daughter. She’s one of the coolest people I know.
My 7 year old son dances when no one (except my daughter) is watching and boy can he move. His “R” sound is still soft and it makes him seem younger than he is. He gets frustrated when his sister is able to catch on to things faster than he can (like skiing) but his careful personality pays off when he explains how NOT to fall off a ski lift to his older sister (which, of course, she did). He asked me this week if I knew the bad word that rhymes with “buck”. The bad words he’s currently aware of include “stupid” and “shut up” so times are changing! He still cuddles and is generous and thoughtful like his dad. He’s one of the kindest people I know.
This crazy parenting experience provides something new with every passing year. I wonder if anyone ever feels like they are good at this job/role? On one hand I can’t believe I have the privilege of helping these little beings grow, on the other I cannot believe the challenge of helping these little beings grow – what a mix! To all the parents out there, here’s to us!