Story by Pamela Jenkins
“Austin! Did you leave the water running outside?”
My oldest daughter stood near the barn, surveying the large area of mud around one of the outdoor faucets. In the middle of the waterlogged mess could be seen, very clearly, the stamps of small shoe prints.
Seven-year-old Austin stood beside her, also looking over the mud puddle and incriminating evidence. His eyebrows puckered in a frown. Well, he started to explain, there was some mud here and he just wanted to play in it a little. He didn’t think he’d left any water running, though.
It’s long been a joke in our family that my son must have been patterned after the little boy in the Family Circle cartoon. He can cover miles and miles of interesting terrain in the time it takes to travel between points A and B. If you send him on a simple trek to the backyard to retrieve a basketball, he will take all sorts of fascinating side trips and get lost in the wonder of the moment. It’s a big world out there, full of things that little boys need to investigate.
One day last week, I watched my son walking through the yard with his school backpack. Something must have captured his attention, because he set the bag on the ground and hustled away. Well, that’s sure to get damp overnight, I thought to myself. I went over to pick it up and put it away. Then I noticed it moving.
Very slowly, one of my speckled Dominique hens poked her head out and looked around as if checking to see if the coast was clear. Then she came out of the backpack, gave her feathers a good ruffling, and calmly walked away clucking to herself.
“Austin! Why is there a chicken in your backpack?”
Austin came back and told me that he had found the hen sitting on a hidden nest. He was just putting her back in the chicken pen. We had a talk about leaving the laying hens alone. They’re doing just what I want them to do, eating bugs and crickets and cleaning up the yard in general. It’s not a good idea to rough up a hen full of eggs, anyway.
Yesterday, I was trying to take a nap before the evening church services. Austin knocked on the bedroom door and came in. He handed me part of his tooth.
“Austin! How did you break off a tooth?”
He explained that he was just taking our dog, Carly, out for a walk. They got their legs tangled in the leash, and he fell down and chipped his front tooth. Both he and the dog got in trouble with my husband.
I took Austin to the dentist this morning, who did a patch job on the front tooth. We talked about crowns and caps later on. When we got home, I did a patching job of my own with Spouse. In all fairness, the dog wasn’t totally to blame. And besides, it could just as easily been a baseball, roller skates or martial arts class that caused the chipped tooth.
A short while ago, I stood in the kitchen washing the supper dishes. I looked out the window. My son was heading to the barn with his skateboard under one arm and a cat under the other.
It’s hard to keep up with all the things that little boys do.