It was a last minute plan–to send my 12 year old son to spend a week on his grandparents farm. It was the first time for him to go alone, without the comfort (and irritation) of sisters.
Farm days in August can stretch long. But the alternative was another routine week at home, so he jumped at the chance to get away. A couple of days before, my father-in-law hurt his arm badly and was waiting on surgery. My son said “Maybe I can help out.” Which is code for I want to drive a four wheeler or kill something.
(He got to do both).
We met halfway to hand him off in Dallas and I put the family phone we keep at home into his pocket in case he needed to reach me. But we both knew it was more for me than him.
I knew this would be a special week.
Knowing my son, I knew it would be special time for his grandparents, too.
Every time I talked to him, I could hear the smile in his voice. I listened to adventures and laughed at his stories.
We only had one text conversation the whole week:
“I miss you.”
“Can’t blame you,” he replied.
“Ha. You’re so funny. What are you doing?”
“Sitting in a hayfield, playing Candy Crush, eating puffy Cheetos with Nanny,” he said.
“I think that’s what Heaven will be like: a serene hayfield, Candy Crush, Cheetos and love.”
Here’s what seven days at the farm taught my son about life.
- Listen to the wiser, older people in your world. They can teach you a lot. People don’t always listen to the elderly, but they have a lot of good stuff to say. He loves to retell their stories.
- Hard work produces results. Food you plant, watch, grow, harvest tastes better than any you can buy. He walked the garden rows for hours, filling buckets with vine-ripened tomatoes, snapping off fresh okra and picking cucumbers. It was the best kind of work.
- When you don’t know what to do, find something to do. There’s always something to do on the farm. Exploring, roaming, imagining and hard work cures boredom.
- Slow down to appreciate the beauty around you. Sitting in a field on a hot August day, watching the wind whip and roll the grass like waves with crystal blue skies as the backdrop is hard to ignore.
- Helping others helps yourself. It felt good to help out, to be needed, to learn from someone older willing to teach someone younger. Helping makes you want to help more and that feels good.
- Time away from the people in your life makes you miss them. Every time I heard my son talk to his sisters on the phone, I smiled. It’s hard to disagree or argue when you simply miss being together.
- Life is better with gratitude. Since returning home, my son has referenced his grandparents dozens of times. He’s shared kitchen and gardening tips he picked up and offers new thoughts on life from their perspective.
I have no doubt the week changed us all.