"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
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
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
"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.