Have you ever said that to one of your kids? Me. Yesterday.
And I had to check myself. Why? Did I think it imperative that my daughter slop a pig? Did I really think wrestling a pig should be summer priority? If not then what? Parents run the risk of attempting to live vicariously; but I was fairly sure the pig raising wasn’t that for me. Parents can sometimes mistake “my child” for “performing seal.” (That happened Saturday night when I practically shoved her off her chair to go Irish dance with the Lord of the Dance dancer so, no, I knew that urge.) It wasn’t that either. So, why the pig? It came down to regret.
I did not want Taite to get all grown up and regret that she had the opportunity to jump in a pig stye; and passed it up. I know; it sounds ridiculous. But consider.
When Jarrett was about 7 I got tired of him lazing around all day in the summer on his school break. Okay maybe he was closer to twelve. But still there he was a growing boy with butt loads of energy, living in the suburbs in the United States where productive children on summer vacation is deemed abusive. A suburban kid can weed the yard only so much.
All that and we were needing a break from each other. So I made him go find a dairy willing to hire a white boy who’s too young to work. He found one. And I was grateful the dairyman was willing to risk it.
Early morning I’d drop him off at the dairy office check-in where he received suspicious looks from all the Mexican workers. Jarrett was a minority of one at the dairy. And a young one at that. He was not given the easiest jobs and was out with a scythe in the ditches, ditches that stretched on for miles, to clear weeds; he climbed up in the barn rafters to clear out pigeon shit; whatever worst job needed done; he was the man. Summer temperatures were at least in the mid 90’s sometimes hitting triple digits by afternoon. Soon the guys were handing him portions of their homemade tamales at lunch and letting him hitch a ride if they went for a bite out.
And then last week when an opportunity for Matthias to work a tough job all summer presented itself; Matthias was glad, his dad was glad, I was glad and Jarrett got downright nostalgic. Jarrett’s summer like that had been a character building summer, a never say die, never give up testing ground. And he envied Matthias the opportunity. He was glad we had made him do the tough thing those summers ago.
You have to do hard stuff to have a story to tell. And okay, Taite did the tough stuff when she went through hell physically a few years ago but that couldn’t be what puts her on eternal “hold” for the rest of life’s adventures that come her way. So that was really it; I don’t want Taite to regret not taking the opportunity to get all the underlying stuff that goes with the pig.