Mountain Kids

The Next Family

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

I grew up a “mountain kid”.  I shoveled snow, dug out the driveway after a big rain, hauled firewood, and spent hours sanding stuff my dad made out in his shop.  I did all this with a few complaints, I’m sure, but I did it just the same.  That was just the way it went.

My kids are “city kids”.  They live in a place without snow.  We have a “mow and blow” guy who takes care of the leaves in the yard and heat that comes on when I push a button.  It’s easier here, but somehow I miss all that activity of the mountain.  In fact, I kind of crave it.

To satisfy this craving, this past weekend I handed out sledgehammers and pry bars to the kids and we tore out a big brick planter in our backyard.  I was prepared for a few complaints – my kids often have a hard time getting their breakfast dishes to the kitchen counter – but to my surprise, there weren’t any.

Wearing big protective goggles, my son took to the sledgehammer like a pro, knocking out bricks one by one.  My daughter, with her love of neatness, picked up all the broken bits of cement and piled them in the wheelbarrow.  We found strange red spiders and lots of fat worms.  We used the shovel to nudge under the edges of the brick and worked together to tear down the wall.

“This is really fun,” my son said more than once.  “It’s like a vacation.”

We stayed at it for nearly two hours before taking a break for lunch and then, after a quick sandwich, we returned to the job site.  At the end of the day, we were all tired and dirty, but deeply satisfied with our big pile of rubble and the clean, flat space in our yard.

“What else can we do?” my son asked.

And I promised to let him know.

Work – hard work – is what we humans are made to do.  Before there was ADHD and childhood obesity, there were barn raisings and cattle drives.  My son would have made a great cowboy.  He’d have been a terrific “mountain kid”.  As his mom, I need to remember to make sure he gets that chance.

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[Photo Credit: Woody Thrower]

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