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It Takes A Village

Posted by Avishay04, 22 June 2012 · 460 views

There really is some wisdom in saying, "It takes a village to raise a child".

My BO's daughter, son in law, and 3 1/2 year old granddaughter live on the same property as the barn. As a result, my BO ends up watching his granddaughter quite a bit. This evening I was riding Shay while they sat on the patio - just across the narrow driveway from one end of the arena. The preschooler is a bundle of energy, and a dastardly combination of energetic + smart x willful^2. She began misbehaving and when threatened with a time-out (her Kryptonite), tried to run off and find her mom who was gardening in the back (as if that would help her to escape her fate).

Her grandfather has had two knee replacements, has a titanium rod in one femur, and is rather bow-legged from a lifetime in the saddle. In short, he's not quite as quick or as nimble as he used to be, and he doesn't particularly like to discipline her. But she generally listens to me and knows I'm not going to put up with her being naughty (and I have her mom's permission and approval to step in when needed) so I pulled my horse up to the fence, locked eyes with the girl, and said, "Either you mind your grandpa right now and let him put you in the time-out you *earned*, or I'm going to have to get off this horse, and you're going to regret it. Because if I have to get off, *I* am going to go get your mom, and tell her how bad you're being."

She hemmed and hawed, and I made a big show of sighing, "Alright, that's it. I'm going to get off my horse!" And began to swing over.

"Okay! Okay!" she hollered, running back to her grandfather, crying and whining as he led her to the time-out chair. "I don't like you very much!" she shouted at me over her shoulder.

"I don't care if you like me or not," I replied calmly, settling back into the saddle. "You can't throw things and yell and kick at your grandpa like that." And with that I proceeded with my ride.

It wasn't until later this evening that I realized I'd done exactly what I'd promised myself I would never do - I'd spewed "Mom-isms" like they were going out of style. My mom had been full of them when I was a kid:

"Don't *MAKE* me [stop whatever I'm doing] to come over there and deal with you, or you'll regret it."

"Do I *LOOK* stupid to you?"

"Are you listening to me, or are you just watching my mouth move?"
Or, alternatively, "Are you paying attention, or am I just talking to hear my own voice?"

"Am I going to have to call your father at work?"

"What part of "NO" don't you understand?"

And a personal favorite of mine as a child, "Stop whining, or I'll give you a reason to cry."

Now, don't get me wrong - my mom is a SAINT. She's patient, kind, generous, and probably the smartest person I know. And if I had a shred of good sense in my body, I'd accept and follow her advice more quickly than is my habit. But I grew up hearing so many "Mom-sisms" on a daily basis that I once swore on a Bible that I'd never use them with my own kids. And, as I don't have any kids of my own (so far), I've technically yet to break that vow. Moreover, I would certainly NEVER say 90% of what I heard growing up to someone else's kid. But this particular child really does like to test, and she does require something of a small village to keep her in line. But I'm a little mortified at myself for even letting slip a couple of mild and wholly appropriate Mom-isms.

And really, aside from the reality that children need to learn how to behave properly and with good manners, the fact of the matter is we have eight 900+ lb animals and their riders on the property, not to mention cars and other vehicles coming and going on a busy road, rattle snakes, etc. If she doesn't learn that throwing a fit and running off isn't acceptable, she's at risk of getting hurt or even killed (or potentially hurting someone else). This thought (of safety for her and others) was foremost in my mind today, because I had read about Chris Cox's little girl who was kicked in the head yesterday, and was (last I heard) in serious condition. All because she managed to slip unnoticed out of the house and head down to the horses. It's tragic, and it would simply kill me if my BO's granddaughter got bitten or kicked because she got mad, outran him, and ran into one of the corrals. I believe that none of my horses would ever intentionally harm her - in fact, my two younger horses were raised around small children, and are generally very careful with them. But my Hano mare, Belle, is a bit flighty and has really only ever been handled by experienced adults - she could easily spook at a small, fast creature in her pen and run her over by accident.

Just some food for thought, I guess.

Too true (& well-said!!)
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