Chicken Herding and Children

My daddy calls me a chicken herder. Odd, because I am scared to death of roosters…always have been. That fact has provided much delight and humor to my father. Of his favorite stories to share about me, two involve chickens and turkeys. Oh, how he laughs as he reminisces about the day that he came home from work to find me locked in the chicken pen…sans chickens. You see, the chickens were all OUTSIDE the pen, trying to kill themselves to get in. Those crazy birds were bouncing off the wire. Sure, they were hungry. They wanted me…I knew it then, I know it now. I was TRYING to feed them, but their food of choice that day was human and I was not ready to go down…not that day…not that way. So, I was found locked in the pen. I had been there for slightly more than a minute before my dad arrived home and was able to share in the, apparently hysterical, experience. I started hollering the second I heard his car door slam. Yes, he finally found me, and he FINALLY helped me…it was great…NOT!!

Fast forward to experience #2…turkeys this time. Those are just REALLY BIG chickens. Not FUNNY!!! Once again, it was feeding time. This time it was NOT their feeding time, I was off to feed the dog, but like their comrades, they smelled human and they were ready to feed…on ME. The dinosaur-sized birds were in the shed with the dog dish. Human enters shed, birds see food, birds chase human…

Round…

“Daddeeeee”

And round…

“Daddeeeeeeeeeee”

And round…

“DADDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!”

THE SHED…

I went…

Only to see my father (and mother this time) …LAUGHING…YES, LAUGHING. I am getting ready to get eaten alive by these blood-thirsty carnivores. What do my parents, my guardians, my protectors, do to help me?

AB-SO-LUTE-LEE NOTHING!!

This went on for about 6 months (well, that’s how long it felt…have you ever been chased by turkeys?) before my dad was finally able to catch his breath long enough to choke out, “drop the food.”

“WHAT?”

“The FOOD!”

I chunk the food, trying to hit the vicious, blood-thirsty creatures…low and behold, they stopped dead in their tracks and started…eating the food. Oh…hmmm…interesting.

So, as you can see, I am NOT a big “chicken person,” but I like eggs, I like fresh eggs, and I am quite fond of growing and producing as much of my own food as possible.

So…I have chickens…

I’m not completely crazy. I sometimes learn from past failures and mistakes. I now am the proud owner of, not only chickens, but a rather long chicken stick.

I’ve had the discussion of land ownership with Pikachu…yes, our rooster is named Pikachu…don’t ask me how we get these names. I don’t want him to know that I am afraid of him, but I get the feeling that he may suspect…I guess I’m easy to read.

Again, I digress…

Pikachu and I have had the discussion (through the fence) about whose name is and is NOT on the deed to the property that we live on. For the record, that would be my name (and the hubby’s), not Pikachu’s…but Pikachu seems neither to understand nor care so I continue to carry around my chicken stick when I am in his presence.

About this stick…
I use it to herd, yes herd, my chickens around the yard and back into the pen. You see, when you (ok, me…I) …when I am herding chickens, I spend most of the time following along behind them, letting them “lead,” allowing them to feel some “independence.” There are times when one may try to run too far ahead and sneak around the back side of the shed (again with the sheds). It’s then that I practice my flanking tactics. I’m a pretty good flanker, for the record. I run slightly ahead, close in, turn them around. The stick is my guide…a little from the left, a little from the right…careful not too much to the left or too much to the right or I will have to use my flanking tactics again. I do this…a lot…

As I am herding these flighty creatures one day, I realize…herding chickens is a lot like raising children.

Hear me out…sometimes children can seem flighty, irrational, broody, moody, always on the go, at times…quite confrontational.

Wait, am I describing kids or me? Hmmm…

Kids also need someone to stay in behind them…sometimes redirect them. They need to be guided a little from the left, a little from the right…protected from danger, wrong choices, bad decisions…redirected towards “better” ones.  There is a delicate balance. One must be careful when pushing in from the right with discipline or punishment…not too much…and steering from the left with freedom, lenience, and compassion…too much here can cause straying as well.  Don’t get me wrong…it’s all done with love…I don’t want my children or my chickens to get eaten by a hawk…but it’s not always fun and games.

It’s tough stuff.

Sometimes you get to be the fun parent with trips to the zoo, arts and crafts, new puppies, new toys, fun parties…

My most favorite moments are when we are all snuggled together…my whole family. I want to hold them all, touching each one of them. This makes me the happiest wife/mommy in the world…until it’s time to fall asleep, then I like sleep space.

My kids LOVE to hike and our newfound hobby is geocaching. Going on a “treasure hunt” means working together (along with the GPS…that I’m not very good with) and seeing who’s eagle eye can find the box first. It’s just us and nature…kind of peaceful with no distractions…except that confounded GPS. THEN, once the box is found and mommy makes sure there are no snakes or poison ivy around all the girls get to pick a treasured trinket out of the box (it’s usually what grown-ups would think of as junk, but to them it’s magnificent). We then place a trinket of our own in the box and re-hide it for the next person. It’s fun! The kids have a blast.

AND…
Sometimes you must be the parent who takes the keys and says, “no.” Restrictions and punishments ARE hard on the parent. I never realized how hard until I became one…I always thought the “this hurts me more than it hurts you” speech was bogus. I now know that I spend plenty of time, out of view, crying for, and/or about my children. There are a lot of prayers for my kids that they hear, but an equally large (or larger) amount that they don’t hear.

It really is hard…being the meanest, most hated person in the whole entire world is a lot of weight to carry…

Right now, at this stage of our lives, the “meanest mommy EVER” is one that enters the living room wielding a trash bag and announcing that anything SHE must pick up is going in and NOT coming out. This meanest ever mommy also refuses to pay them for cleaning their own stuff. I’ve been told…it gets “different,” not necessarily easier…hmmm…should I be fearful or excited?

However, right now I get to argue with the rationale, “it’s YOUR living room, and I thought you said all the toys were REALLY YOURS.” Yes, this is what my kids have told me. Don’t you love it when your words come back to haunt you…and the kid using them has a good point? I guess I DID say that the toys are mine because sometimes kids like to fight over what’s “mine” and the things that they had “first” …and I DID buy most of them.

Have I mentioned that I don’t have all the answers?

I don’t have even part of the answers. It’s rough, it’s tough…it’s not for the faint of heart…and it’s continually changing. The rug keeps getting pulled out from underneath the parental feet.
The awesome thing about children is that you are blessed enough to be able to form relationships, bond with them, set examples, LEAD…

Pikachu does NOT care a thing about following me anywhere, but my kids do. I’m their role model. I can demonstrate how to love, how to have compassion, how to make good, healthy choices. They are still going to think they know it all, think I am incompetent, try to run the show at times…

There is going to be the child who you must repeatedly tell NOT to run ahead and NOT to climb on the rocks in the creek because she is going to slip and fall in with her NEW shoes on. Sometimes that same child, who thinks that she is invincible and much smarter than her mommy, is going to end up…yes, you guessed it…falling in the creek with her NEW shoes on and having to ride home in a damp shirt and wet undies because her pants are SOAKED.

Of course, I laughed. Wouldn’t you have?

I told her that I was sorry because I really was, but I am human and I couldn’t help but laugh.  I explained that I loved her. I was not mad about the shoes…they would dry…but I really do know what I’m talking about…

Kids have parents and other grown-ups in their lives for a reason. Adults REALLY HAVE been THERE and they HAVE done THAT.

And…
Adults are given a world full of sweet kids for a reason too. Children are the SPARKLE in life. Kids paint the world…sometimes walls…but they make it a more beautiful place. It’s all about perspective. My kids are AWESOME!!!

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

6 Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

 

When times are tough and I’m not sure how I am going to pull through this parenting thing, I just need to remember to practice some good ol’ fashion chicken herding…

A little left…

A little right…

Guidance, discipline, and a lot of LOVE.

 

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