I have three cows in heat....all at the same time. Our farm is...well...a bit louder than usual. They all stand at the edge of our fenceline moo-ing at the angus bull next door. They call to their bigger friend, in hopes that maybe he will risk the shock of the fence to come over and 'play'. The bull ignores my Jerseys, as he has his own Holsteins to care for (although truth be told, Jerseys are far more attractive than Holsteins, but anyway...). My cows that are in heat are too small to breed still...teenagers in human years. Last week, when the fence was momentarily turned off, Queen Elsa, named by my 6 year old, broke through the fence. She was surrounded by my neighbors fenceline (which is always electrified), a creek and a steep embankment. I went to 'fetch' her and she wanted nothing to do with coming back. I grabbed her tail, tried to corral her, pulled her, pushed her, got frustrated and then I took a deep breath and did the one thing I know that works....I stopped forcing what I wanted to happen and let the cow do what...eh...she wanted.
Disclaimer: As with all of my 'parenting' choices, safety is my first concern. In this case, the cow was safe and couldn't go anywhere that would harm her or others. I say this for you folks that were starting to get worried. Now...moving on...
I used to be THAT parent. You know, the one that values compliance and obedience over self-expression because, well, it was just easier. It was easier and simpler if my children did what they were told when they were told to do it. But, as with everything, easier was not what I was after. And, I didn't want obedient children. I wanted children that developed autonomy and an opinion that was carefully thought out based on how they feel, not on how someone tells them they should feel. When I shifted my perspective from raising children to raising future adults, I knew I needed to make changes...and quick. Here's why...
In our family, we live a life of questioning. We question where our food comes from, why we need electricity if it pollutes the earth, and the long term effects of chemicals in our food. We question why our culture is so medicated, so obese, so unhappy. We question why certain laws exist and why some of them aren't in our best interest. We do not blindly follow what 'authority figures' or 'leading experts' recommend. We do not vaccinate, use microwaves, eat GMO's, or use the cleaners on the shelves of most stores, even though most 'authority' figures would say it is just fine, even healthy. We don't wear shoes in our house, eat from plastic or cook with teflon. We don't use credit cards, buy name brand anything and we do our best to grow a lot of our own food that we eat. All of this came out of questioning. And it took me more than 30 years to learn to start questioning.
I don't want my children to have to wait that long.
What better and safer place for them to start their questioning than with me. At home. When they question, we talk. We find answers together. I might offer them my way of doing things, but always let them know there are many alternative ways in doing the same thing. I respect their differing opinions, but most of all, I listen to their thoughts and beliefs. Because afterall, I am here to learn, as well.
My lessons have been great in regards to parenting. But, I find when I just allow and stop pushing my own ideas of how something should work or when something should happen, my kids find their way gracefully and their learning is more meaningful.
They find thier own way of doing things. They feel empowered. They are more confident.
Sometimes their choices work out for them. Sometimes they don't. But I notice, when I get out of the way, beautiful things happen. And that is really the point of all of this, right? To just notice and observe the process of our kid's life as it unfolds. To bear witness to their amazing wisdom and hopefully learn something along the way.
Oh...and the cow? As soon as I started to head back to the house, Queen Elsa came back. But not because it was my idea, of course...