Recently we needed to fix the fence at a water gap, a place where the fence crosses the creek. It's July in Texas and its HOT! We purposely planned to do it on a day when the girls would be home from their many adventures of summer, so they could go with us and "help" and play in the creek.
Our girls are 9 and 11 years old, it was already hot at 9:00 in the morning, and they were knee deep in the creek and itching to play in the water. We turned them loose, just let them be kids. I handed tools and wire down to Casey and he tied everything back up on the water gap while the girls just played and played in that stinky ole creek water.
I have spent some time reflecting lately on my own childhood and growing up on the ranch with my little sister, just like my own girls are doing now. We were mostly just kids. We spent a lot of time in the pasture with Dad, either on horseback working cattle or learning to drive ranch roads. We spent a lot of time just running feral, too, with no real purpose or agenda.
But as I remember it, we didn't "work" that much. We helped out plenty and it is entirely possible that we did and we just didn't realize that it was work at the time. If that is the case, then I hope it is the same for my kids. I hope their memories are filled with the fun and the goodness of this ranch life.
There is something else I realized as well. I know what I know about this ranch because I "played" here. For over 20 years I have officially called this ranch my place of employment, but I didn't and couldn't learn many of the things I know about the heartbeat of this ranch from working here. I learned it playing here as a kid. Its instinctive and native to my heart.
So we took our kids to work and didn't make them do a thing. They learned a few things anyway. They learned that you can stand in the creek and fix a water gap. They learned how a water gap is made to swing open when big water or objects hit it so that it is easily repaired. They watched Casey do the work and asked questions on their way to explore on the other side of the water gap. All of that is pretty valuable, especially when you add in the fun. Maybe they won't dread the task when its their turn to do the work.
Maybe I am learning something too. Let them be little. Let them be kids. There will be time for them to work hard and they do help out a lot. Maybe one of them will want to carry on this ranching legacy. But on this day, they needed time to just be kids. They got to know this ole ranch a little better. They are soaking in ranch life on this ranch whether they know it or not.