They Are Watching
February 8, 2019
We are often told to watch what we say and do because children learn by listening and watching. Usually the caveat is because we might misbehave, but it also counts when we are just doing our day-to-day living. This brings me to a story.
Last week I had the privilege of remaining at a family's home to receive visitors and food while the family trekked off to the funeral home to do what families do at that time. A perk of my staying behind was I was tasked with keeping a 4-year old boy with me; we were not acquainted before this. I soon learned he wasn't just a regular young one but he is precocious, polite, mannerly, and all boy who likes to talk.
He was playing Minecraft on an iPad while I vacuumed and did a few house things that are impossible to accomplish when the house is full of people. I told him we could play and he asked if I like cows. Sure, I told him, we have them all over where I live. He went to the basement and retrieved two (plastic) cows and their calves, a bull and a somewhat deranged-looking buffalo. We started out playing on the dining room table. As you might imagine the bull and the buffalo fought a lot and the bull always won. Go figure. The cows and calves were well-behaved.
He thought we should play on the floor and we relocated to the living room floor. In a few minutes he went downstairs for more cows, but instead he brought up two good-sized wooden corrals, the kind that are hooked together but have joints so they can be reconfigured. We moved animals and changed corrals as often as we pleased. But that darn bull. He found the wooden gate, hit it with his horns and it fell wide open. The boy told me the bull was strong too as he had broken the chains on the gate.
“A perk of my staying behind was I was tasked with keeping a 4-year-old boy with me; we were not acquainted before this. I soon learned he wasn’t just a regular young one but he is precocious, polite, mannerly, and all boy who likes to talk.”
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This is where I get to the point. There were no visible chains on the gate. Imagination played into the scenario. He had been around his granddad's penned-up cattle a very few times — and it had been over a year since his last visit. Consider the details in this little boy's mind: not only did the bull tear down the gate; he got the chains too. So a then 3-year old city-raised boy, who by now is a 4-year old city boy, remembered a year later what it would take for the bull to break loose.
We only had one thing on which we disagreed. He said cows and bulls eat grass and hay but buffalo eat only grass. He was horrified when I said buffalo can also eat hay when it is necessary, even when we talked about no rain and little grass.
Think of the impressions he saved in his head all because he saw adults working and remembered what he saw. Maybe in 20 years he'll truly be a cattleman. ❖