This Ain’t No Bull

This Ain’t No Bull

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

This Ain’t No Bull

Every house where love abides and friendship is a guest is surely home, and home, sweet home; for there the heart can rest.

Henry Van Dyke

My grandson, Danny, looked in awe at my elbows. He couldn’t understand why or how, when he pulled the skin, it remained out. “That’s cool, Grandma. How do you do that?”

These questions and numerous other adjustments were to follow when our son realized I was getting “up in years” and offered to build me a new home near him on his farm. “Then when you get old, it will be easier to take care of you,” he said politely. He invited me to live with him, his wife and their four children during construction.

I accepted the offer, but I worried what it would be like living with the kids on the farm. I’d had no experience with farming.

On my first day they showed me to my room. Granddaughter Heather had given up her bedroom for me and moved in with her sister, Kari, a sacrifice for both teenagers. “Mom just wallpapered my bedroom, Grandma. Don’t you just love it?” Near the ceiling, a border of horse heads stared down at me.

French doors opened out of the bedroom onto a balcony where the view was spectacular. I watched the horses graze, and I could see the cows, pigs and chickens. A creek wandered into a pond at the bottom of the hill, which a blue heron, geese and ducks shared as their home. Life on the farm, living with the kids began.

I used to sleep in until 8:00 A.M. Life here began about 5:30 A.M. Have you ever heard four hair dryers all going at the same time? Then kids running downstairs, kids running upstairs, then down again? You can’t beat it. So I’d wake up, stretch for a few minutes and say hello to the horses on the wall. They made me grin.

In the evenings in front of the TV, every sofa and chair was filled. On the floor, kids lay in all different directions, along with their dog, Annie, and two cats, Cupcake and Ziggy. Who would have thought those cramped circumstances would be enjoyable? Yet that scene became a lasting memory for me, like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting.

Being the hip grandma that I am, I thought I ought to learn some of the chores around the farm so I could be of some help. My oldest granddaughter, Shannon, agreed to show me the ropes.

“Come with me, Grandma. We’ll start with the chickens.”

That seemed easy enough. We entered the coop and I immediately noticed a rather large rooster with a big plume on his tail eyeing me, but I continued into the pen. All of a sudden that rooster made a beeline for me and chased me around the pen. He pecked at my ankles, and I screamed. Shannon came after the rooster with a stick to scare it off. I made a huge jump for the fence and hurtled over it . . . landing in a nice mushy pile of cow manure!

Shannon wore a sheepish grin. “Wanna try feeding the horses?”

Granddaughter Kari had put her mare out to be bred a few weeks before. The time came for the vet to visit the farm to perform a pregnancy test. I wanted to be right there to see how this was done. The old vet drove up in his truck and went to the back, I supposed to get what he needed to do the pregnancy test. Now I’m not too smart when it comes to the farm, but I knew he wasn’t going to get that horse to urinate on one of those chemical sticks to watch what color it turned! But when he came out from behind his truck with his arm in a rubber glove up to his shoulder, I gasped!

In this house, the kids did the laundry. I’ve never seen so many pairs of tiny bikini panties, except in department stores. I chuckled when I overheard one of the girls giggle as she unloaded the dryer, “Wow, Grandma wears big underpants!”

One weekend when the family went away, I stayed by myself. While walking down by the pond, I heard a mournful moo-o-o-o come from one of the cows. Upon investigation, I found she had just presented me with a little calf! Sheer excitement! When the family returned, I proudly informed our son that the cow had a calf while they were gone. I’d seen an appendage on the calf’s underside, so I told my son it was a boy. He took me at my word and called a friend to come castrate the little guy, as was routinely done on the farm. He raised the calf’s tail and said, “Uh-oh, guess what? This ain’t no bull, it’s a little heifer.” Everyone looked my way for an answer, but I couldn’t sputter one out.

As you can see, life is not boring when you live with your kids. Eventually my new home was finished and I moved into it. The Norman Rockwell picture changed.

Although I am happy, I miss the laughter and fun of my son’s household.

As you get older, if you are faced with living with your children, don’t be afraid of it. Hang on! Perhaps Rockwell has already painted a picture of the pleasing life you are about to experience. Or maybe you’d like to paint your own picture. Either way, it will be as good as you make it—or better.

Joanie Gilmore

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