Country Kids

Several months ago I was standing at the BandLand door on a Monday morning greeting students as they arrived to drop off instruments in the band room before school.  Trying to make conversation, I asked questions like, “How are you?” and “Did you have a good weekend.”

As one 6th grade farm boy entered, I happened to ask, “So, what did you do this weekend.”

He stopped and thought for just a second before answering, “I helped neuter the pigs.”

Caught off guard by this, I just replied, “Good for you!”

But his answer got me thinking about some of my other country kids:  students who are growing up on farms with chores and responsibilities.  One such young man seemed a bit groggy one morning.  When I asked why, he told me that it was birthing season for his sheep and he had been up much of the night.  But he was at school on time and he wasn’t complaining.

The other day my wife and I were walking around the 4-H fairgrounds when I observed a boy who couldn’t have been much older than 13 or 14 grading the horse arena with a John Deere tractor that was two or three times the size of my car.  He was handling it like a seasoned veteran; there was absolutely no hint of carelessness or thoughtlessness.  He took his time and paid attention, and when he was done the arena was ready for a horse riding competition.

I have also had many young ladies involved in the county and state 4-H festivals showing horses, cattle, and goats.  I remember Emily who, at the age of 14 or 15, was entering her sewing project into the annual competition.  After several years of study and practice with her mom, she had completed a beautiful and complicated dress that met all of the requirements for the highest level of difficulty.

I don’t remember if she won the show, but I can tell you she was one of many who gained much more than a ribbon for her efforts.  She and these other young people have been some of my best, most reliable, most responsible, most respectful students.  They have gained skills and character traits that will serve them well in any endeavor.  Emily, for instance, has nearly completed her studies at one of Indiana’s top schools of pharmacology.  And she is just the kind of person you would want to dispense your medicines.

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