I recently had the opportunity to be a substitute teacher for a 1st grade class. (I was probably a bottom-of-the-barrel substitute selection, but that didn’t stop my enthusiasm.) As the library lady at school, I get the distinct privilege of sharing a book with the students once a week, but that Friday I was given two opportunities to read books of my choosing to the class. The only problem was I couldn’t abandon my newly acquired class to run up to the library for reading materials, and the junior high classes were using the space so I couldn’t take the 1st graders to the library. I had to tap into the resources at my disposal and pick books from the numerous reading tubs available in the classroom. That is how I stumbled upon Six Crows by Leo Lionni and the powerful statement, “Words can do magic.”
The Six Crows fable is one where a wise old owl witnesses the great lengths that a farmer and six crows go to in order to protect or steal the farmer’s wheat. After reflecting on the situation, the wise owl couldn’t decide who was being sillier, so she stepped in to help. The owl advised both the farmer and the crows to speak to the other and work out their problem instead of allowing the wheat to die because the two parties were so busy trying to scare the other away. The scare tactics included terrible scarecrows and giant bird puppets; both of which prevented the wheat from being tended or eaten.
Walking the walk and talking the talk can a be tall order when it comes to being positive. Sometimes positive energy can be hard to find. Other times we have to create that outlook for ourselves.
This week was mid-quarter for my children at school. (Thank goodness our school has made it healthily this far into 1st quarter.) I have started to see a shadow of exhaustion in my daughter.
She is determined to earn high enough grades to be on Honor Roll, practicing 3 to 4 days a week with her competitive gymnastics team, still helping with home and farm chores, and be a normal 11-year old. Not wanting that shadow to become a storm of exhaustion, I devised a way to help her think, talk, and feel positive on Monday.
As soon as my girl was off the bus, I told her how proud I was of her and showed her successful math paper from last week’s homework now displayed on the pantry door. (5th grade math is hard!) Then I had blueberry muffins hot, out of the oven, for after-school snack, and I shared my blog post on The Thunder Tree with her. (She loved Thunder.) I told her to get dressed for gymnastics and surprised her with fresh cup of sweet tea to-go. These may seem like petty things, but when she got home 4 hours later from gymnastics, her mood was lighter than it had been the last few days, and she gushed with the successes of her practice.
For a while my husband has been looking for a balancer bull to round out our herd of Red Angus cattle. He had mentioned a few times that he found some nice looking Charolais or other breeds but I told him we raise Red Angus and I had no real interest in any crossbreeds.
Low and behold at dinner one evening, my husband announced that our new bulls and heifers would be delivered the next day. The kids were excited. I was confused. When did we buy new bulls or heifers?
He went on to tell the kids that they were going to get some pretty, new white cows. He didn’t look me in the eye. I didn’t want any white cows. We raise Red Angus!
I didn’t say anything. I just began to clear the dinner table. After dinner we finished up another crazy evening of dishes, homework, baths, and bedtime. I was too exhausted to bring up our new white cows.
The next day the Charolais arrived as promised. We took our excited kiddos to see them in the lot. The kids named them and asked questions and fought over who got to open and close the gate. I didn’t say much. We raise Red Angus.