It happened that day just as it did almost every other day.
"Mom," said 10-year-old Tristan as he walked in the door from school, “I want an iPod. Even Sophia in Grade 2 has an iPod."
Cody echoed Tristan's sentiments. "I'm the only one in my class without a phone," said the 12-year-old. And so it went with my daughter, Iva. Certainly no 13-year-old should be seen in public without electronics. Even Ben at age 4 wanted a handheld Nintendo system.
"This has got to stop," my husband said at bedtime that night. We were tired of it. And that's when we hatched our plan ....
The next thing the children knew we were living on a farm, complete with chickens, goats, sheep and a plum orchard. No sooner were we moved in, the children were collecting eggs twice a day. The goats were rather friendly and Ben enjoyed brushing them. The children painted fences, cut the grass and helped in the garden.
Their indoor play vs. outdoor play ratio switched. A swing in the weeping willow tree kept them occupied for hours and running through the sprinkler became a favorite activity.
And then there was the plum harvest. Beautiful blue and purple Italian prune plums hung in clusters from branches, many low enough to the ground for little hands to reach. The children earned $3 per bucket for as much as they could pick. Surprisingly no one saved for electronics. Bikes and skateboards were the order of the day.
Tasty plums hang from branches in August.
Twice a week during plum season we attended the farmers' market. Iva, Cody, Tristan and Ben all worked the booth with their dad while I stayed on the farm and ran the fruit stand from there. They all looked forward to these Wednesdays and Saturdays. They helped pick, package the fruit, and serve customers. Iva even made her own jewelry to sell alongside the fruit. They knew the harder they worked the more money they made. And they were proud of the gorgeous, tasty fruit they helped grow.
With huge smiles on their faces they carried paper bags of fruit to their teachers and classmates. Plums, not sprayed, went straight from the tree into lunchkits.
It is early May. The children eagerly await August for the start of plum season. For now they are content to play with baby goats and chicks.
Tristan cuddles up with a little yellow chick.
We eventually gave in with some of the electronics, but not until a solid foundation of "the things that really matter" was put down. We have grown closer as a family, and have learned what it is like after a hard day's work on the farm; you're just plum tired. In a good way.