Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Freakonomics at the Farmers Market.

Posted on | August 28, 2013 | 7 Comments

So the older ones finally started school.  I’d share a picture of them, standing on the porch and holding homemade signs out of my expensive scrapbooking paper stating the grade that they are entering this year.  Except I didn’t take any.  I didn’t know that was “in”.  I had no idea that was all the rage until after I got them on the bus, finished the milking, and checked the computer in the hopes of finding all my friends were finally available for lunch dates.  And I was bombarded with a million adorable photos of happy, well-dressed children holding creative handcrafted signs.  Um, pinterest, I didn’t get the memo.  Thanks a lot.

Although it was really too late for that anyway.  Because the younger kids went back to school in July.  And they didn’t get a sign either.  So making one for the big kids would just be one more example of how the first born children got all the best of my parenting energy and the later ones were left with the dregs.  Which I like to remind the younger ones is quite a fair trade off for the excessive amount of television and Wii that they have been allowed compared to their older siblings.  I’m sure their future therapists will approve.

Besides, the convenience of back to school photographs with the year and grade already included in the picture is overrated.  I will probably be in my fifties before I have the spare time to sit down and scrapbook my photos into albums.  Trying to decide what year a photo was taken and the age of the children in the image will be the mental stimulation I’ll use to fend off aging.  Sorting chronologically and properly labeling my kids’ photos is just the kind of demanding detective work that will keep my brain active.  So you can keep your pretty picture ideas to yourself, pinterest.  Convenience now, dementia later, people.

In any case, I’m glad the teaching is back in the hands of the professionals.  Because the summer time learning was a bit sparse around here.  Pretty’s summer consisted of beach trips and babysitting, summer camps and sleepovers.  In between activities she was only home long enough to clean her bunny’s cage, pick her pony’s hooves, and throw dirty laundry on the floor of her room before she was off again.  Leaving her dog, Luna, at home dreaming of the days of ball throwing and belly rubs.

Big, on the other hand, was always at home.  Converting his room into a workshop and deconstructing any spare, broken, or unattended electronics in his quest to construct a bionic hand and realistic weaponry for a cyborg costume this fall.

I’m sure there was some learning going on in there.  It was just all beyond my understanding.  And his dog, Orion, lucked out.  Because since there was obviously not much sleeping going on during late nights of inventing and engineering was overflowing onto the bed….

….there was much lazing around on the couch during the day.

My biggest attempt to teach the kids anything at all during summer break turned out to be a bit of a bust.  When I received a notice that there was going to be a kids’ vendor day at a a nearby farmers market, I figured it was a great opportunity for the kids to learn about earning and spending, expense and profit.  Pretty and the boys took over the garden and chicken chores for a month so that they could sell eggs, herbs, vegetables, and flowers.

Big enlisted my dad’s help to create a display board for his thriving paracord survival bracelet business.  And he added some necklaces and lanyards to expand his offerings.

They set up among their fellow vendors….

….and let the selling begin.

Or, should I say, the buying?  Because as soon as they made a sale, they took turns rushing off to buy things.

Middle bought rice krispies treats.

Big and Pretty both purchased pizza pretzels.

Little got all of the above, plus a tie dyed t-shirt.

At least the face painting was free.

So he loaded up on that.

At the end of the market, Big was the only one with much profit to show.  Pretty and Middle each had a dollar and some change.  And Little was 35 cents in the hole.  I’m pretty sure that all I taught them that day was, “Easy come, easy go.”  And maybe even, “Farming doesn’t pay.  Get a real job.”

We tried to shake off our losses by strolling through the adjacent college campus.  I figured the only way to salvage any lesson from the farmers market was to promote higher education.  And the regular paycheck and insurance benefits that go along with it.  The kids had never been to a private university before and they were amazed at the tree-lined walkways….

impressed with the stately buildings and manicured lawns….

thrilled with the fountains….

enchanted with the endless corridors….

and fascinated by the age and history of the buildings.

When they discovered the lake….

and its friendly swan….

they were gushing, excitedly, “This place is incredible!!  Why wouldn’t anyone want to go to college??!!!”

“Just remember that when you’re doing your schoolwork,” I lectured. “Getting into college takes hard work and commitment.”

And I congratulated myself on a job well done as we strolled back into town for an ice cream cone at the weekly street festival….

relaxed in front of Big Something,

and watched a train rumble past.

Sometimes learning is more complicated than dollars and cents.  Sometimes it’s about showing your kids the big picture.  The places they can go if they set their mind to it.

“What was this college called again?” asked Little as we licked our ice cream comes.

I paused for a minute as I thought about 4 kids, farming profits, and private colleges.

“You know,” I said, “I don’t remember.  But you should see the big trees and the old buildings at the state universities.  Puts this place to shame, really.”

“Oh,” they nodded,  “Sounds awesome.”

Whew!  That was a close call.  Almost got my kids hooked on the idea of a private college when this state has some of the best (and most affordable) public universities in the country.

Yep.  Time to put teaching back in the hands of the professionals.  Happy back to school, kiddos.


7 Responses to “Freakonomics at the Farmers Market.”

  1. Tanya Lam
    August 28th, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

    Great one this time!! Miss you!

  2. Rose
    August 29th, 2013 @ 4:55 am

    I am with you on the whole “picture on the first day of school” thing. Really? Who cares? All those smiling faces in front of the bus are clogging up my Facebook wall where I would rather see a shared post about the dangers of GMOs or the health benefits of pot, or some rant about this politician or that politician.

  3. Andrew
    August 29th, 2013 @ 5:02 am

    Affordable? When was the last time you were a student at a state university in this state?

  4. Diane
    August 29th, 2013 @ 6:10 am

    No photos with cute signs here either – good to know my slack ways now will actually help me in my old age!

  5. Samantha
    August 29th, 2013 @ 7:36 am

    Kid’s Vendor Day?! What a great idea! I wish ours would do something like that. When I was younger I would have been SO into it. No kids, and different generation, but who knew about the kids with their “grade sign” for the first day of school. 🙂 I say buck that trend!

  6. Lisa
    September 4th, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

    If I’m not mistaken, the older one left the house in tears that morning after challenging me on something of little importance. School pictures???? That probably would have been a memorable one. Too bad I didn’t think quicker on my feet…

  7. ImBeingHeldHostage
    September 13th, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

    Oh thank you! I didn’t get the memo either. I thought I was going to win the Best Mom of the Year just because my kids were clean and only managed to leave a few things behind (and be a little late). I didn’t know about the signs, or the professional-looking photo props.

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