Sometimes I actively plan great educational and fun activities for my kids, and other times they just happen to us in the course of just living our hectic and often crazy lives. Such was today’s visit to the local Farmer’s Market.
On the way home from a disastrous kiddie gymnastics class where my two little kids did not use their best listening skills, we spied a fire truck at the Farmer’s Market we sometimes visit. My three-year-old son loves his planes, trains, and trucks. So, I promised we would stop if we were able to improve our listening and subsequently our behaviors on the errand run I needed to complete.
My kids were almost angelic through the bank, pharmacy, and dry cleaner stops. Trucks can prove quite util in my parenting bribery repertoire. So on our return, we stopped to see the gathering of all things with motors among the fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.
We’ve been at events before where the organizers charged money to enter to “touch a truck,” so it was a delight that this event was free. We were also loaded up with freebies–stickers, signed photographs, pencils with bus pencil topper eraser, cardboard bus banks, and anti-bullying paraphernalia.
My kids loved the freedom to touch, sit in, drive, push the buttons of, and imagine themselves truck drivers, bus drivers, race car drivers, fire fighters and police officers all in a half hour pit stop. They were all smiles and all their previous listening skills problems were solved with a little truck therapy.
Current city employees, retired fire fighters, Jr. R.O.T.C. Members and local celebrity race car drivers (I’d never heard of the guys) were all on hand to answer my kids’ probing questions: “How do you make the seat go up and down?” My son proudly declared himself a fire fighter, “I fire fighter not boy.” And my littlest amused the crowd by singing “The Wheels on the Bus” inside one of the city buses. My kids have never taken the bus and thought it was the most exciting idea when the bus driver gave us the schedule to “ride around some time.”
My oldest daughter who loves anything involving dressing up was really in character inside of an oversized fireproof jacket. She instructed passersby that if there were a real fire they would need to “stop, drop and roll” and get to their “safe meeting place.” The kind gentleman who helped her suit up was impressed with her act. Getting my little guy out of the fire truck wasn’t an easy feat. He was ready for duty and not happy with the idea of going home for a nap.
My big girl also got some laughs when she announced that the little kids belonged in the back of the police car as they were bad. She’d drive them down to the station. On some days I could use a partition between me and the motley crew in the back seats.
The star of the show for my kids was the tractor. I grew up around farm equipment. My family home had apricot, peach, cherry, apple, and plum trees. We had patches of raspberries, strawberries and pumpkins. If you were hungry you picked something from the garden–fresh peas were my personal favorite. Slowing down for tractor traffic was a way of life.
My kids live in a county with rich, black volcanic soil, yet they are so disconnected from the land. I remember riding on my step-grandfather’s tractor to check up on his baby lambs. My kids haven’t had the same experiences climbing trees to reach the blackest cherries or picking tomatoes for a dinner salad.
So, it was important to me to emphasize the amazing role the tractor plays in helping produce all the delicious foods at the market. They listened and humored me as I told them about Reggie the lamb that was “mine” and riding on the dirt roads on the back of the tractor, but ultimately they were most impressed by the size of the tires and the length of the gear shaft. At least I tried to give them some of what I had–something dirty and gritty and organic that can’t be bought at any Farmer’s Market.
We bought a peck of tomato, a half bushel of golden delicious apples (my favorites), a bag of Italian plums, some cilantro, corn-on-the-cob and against all my children’s wishes some beets. Tonight’s dinner was all fresh foods: soup made with the vegetables; corn and beets. There were a lot of funny faces made at the table. My kids are definitly not beet eaters, but if I have anything to do with it they will learn to appreciate all the goodness the earth has to offer–one bite at a time.