Making Progress

May 15, 2013 by Brandy Vencel

Do you remember that song from I think it was Sesame Street? “One of these things is not like the others!” I remember singing this as a child. And then jokingly about my fourth-born child. And then? Well, I suppose I sang it not-so-jokingly. He is his own person, that is for sure!

He and my wild, almost-untameable goat, Charlotte, have had a lot in common. Of course, Charlotte has an excuse. There was a hole in her cage when she was a kid. She ran wild all over the mountains near the microscopic town of Weldon, California, where I purchased her. But my child? He’s lived in a controlled environment–indoor plumbing, even!–for the entirety of his life.

Our other children have their issues, of course, being that they’re born sinners like the rest of us. But this last child of mine is the one who will do me in. He is, for starters, our only true extrovert, and if that were not enough he also thinks he is very funny.

If we were giving out awards, he would be voted Most Likely to Say Something Embarrassing. This means he asks big biker guys why they have girl hair or big {no–he would definitely say huuuuuuuge} tummies, or that poor homeless man where his teeth went. Sometimes I think he knows what he is doing and is doing it on purpose. As I often tell my friends, if I die of a stroke, you will know why.

Ahem.

Poor Charlotte, trying to sleep
after O-Age-Four “crowned” her with his toy

I remember when I realized I had to train Charlotte the goat. This was back in the winter and she was a month or two out from kidding. I had tried over and over with her, only to quit because no progress was ever made. So what if her hooves didn’t get trimmed? Serves her right for throwing such fits and being so difficult! So there!

But when I knew she was having a baby and I was going to have to milk her I was filled with fear. And it was, admittedly, horrible. This is the dark side of keeping livestock, at least it is if you think you are getting a good deal when someone charges you very little for a goat that has spent her infancy pretending to be feral, and getting pretty good at it.

So I determined to win. I went out there every single day, twice a day, in the cold, in the rain, and dragged that horrible goat to the table and made her get on it, though at times it took me and two other children to get her there. I locked her in. I fed her grain and tried to use my Nice Voice and pretend that I liked her.

Weeks passed, and she had a baby, and still we were dragging her to the table, using all our muscles to get her stubborn self up, and then pretending {sometimes with no success} to be Nice and Adoring.

To give you something to compare this to, my sweet little goat Reece came to us from a farm where she had been put up on a ramp for hoof trimming every six weeks with great regularity. She hadn’t seen a milking table before, but she figured everything out within 48 hours.

Charlotte tries a different position…
she was thrilled when one of the other children
finally rescued her

But with Charlotte, many more weeks had to pass before she started to behave. I think it was about twelve weeks before she suddenly, one day, walked up to the shed, waited patiently for me to open the door, jumped up on the table all by herself, and even held still while I milked her.

Praise the Lord!

Not to compare my child with a goat, but there is a bit of an analogy here for me. With this child, though, it’s been four years, and I don’t have the right to give up and let his hooves rot {metaphorically speaking}. But often times it feels like no progress is made.

Now don’t get me wrong. He is very charming. He is much more pleasant to be around than Charlotte the Terrible. But I have, in the past, had that same feeling, like I was hitting my head up against the wall. All the other children were trained by now. What in the world is taking so long?

But today? Today I felt the same way I felt when Charlotte jumped up on the table by herself. It was a miraculous breakthrough for my adorable, impulsive child.

It was 5:45 am and he was already riding his scooter on the patio {much to the neighborhood’s chagrin}. He was in his pajamas and a jacket he had drug of storage somewhere. He grabbed his sand pail and walked up to the faucet. Now, he knows I have a No Water Rule, especially before breakfast. I do not believe in 30 changes of clothing before chores, so the general idea is do your chores, do your lessons, and then we’ll chat about water wars.

So I was watching him, prepared to {once again} send him inside because he didn’t behave.

He hates being sent inside.

He walked up to the faucet. He grabbed the knob. And then he paused. He looked up at me and gave his big, ornery smile.

He spoke loudly. I am sure the neighbors hated it.

“You know why I don’t turn the water on?” he asks at the top of his lungs.

“Why?” I ask. I am so relieved we don’t have to start the morning out with A Consequence.

“Because I don’t want to go inside.”

And he rides off on his scooter.

Oh, I know I’ll probably have to send him in tomorrow. But still. I’m encouraged. We’re making progress. We’re strengthening the will. He just made himself do something–and he said no to his impulses and temptations.

That’s good enough for me.

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13 Comments

  • Reply Jason & Kathleen Braden January 28, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    Oh, I am jsut so glad there is another “one not like the other” son out there…

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 29, 2014 at 12:23 am

      I think everyone should have one, don’t you? 🙂

  • Reply walking May 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Wild child will thank you someday. Bravo!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 16, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      I hope so! He is usually Not Thrilled by the idea that he needs to think before he acts or respect authority, but I have hope that he matures in time. 🙂

  • Reply Dawn May 16, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Awesome! Hope the progress continues to steadily advance.

    I was happy to see that I am not alone in having such early risers, too. Since we don’t have goats, though, I am at a loss to figure out why on earth we have to get up so early.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 16, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      It takes a while to get used to early risers, I think! We used to joke that our oldest was solar powered. Once he outgrew naps, he was especially bad. He cannot sleep if there is one sliver of sun up in the morning, which means he gets up around 5:00 am or even 4:45 am in the peak of summer! Before we started keeping goats this frustrated me, especially because his rising usually woke up his brother, who is emphatically Not Trustworthy and requires a lot of supervision. Our home has been so much more peaceful since I {due to the goatkeeping} began getting up with dawn, too. Of course, I enjoy winter rising more. 🙂

    • Reply Anonymous May 17, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      Why do they call you Dawn? I think I know.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      You mean she was doomed with a name like that? 🙂

    • Reply Dawn May 17, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      Ha! Clearly that must be the case. I shall graciously submit to my fate.

  • Reply Rahime May 16, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Yay! I sent a few friends over here recently–one who was looking for info on goats and another wanting recommendations for good books for a young boy. 🙂 Hope you don’t mind. 😉

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 16, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Of *course* I don’t mind.

      You remind me that I need to write a post soon on copper bolusing goats. This is my latest development on the microhomestead.

  • Reply Nanny Y. May 16, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Wonderful post! I was reminded of the struggle of another godly woman I read recently over at Women Living Well. Both posts remind me to stay humble. If I should be blessed with a child someday I have no idea how I’d deal with these challenges! http://womenlivingwell.org/2013/04/parenting-a-wild-child/

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 16, 2013 at 1:41 am

      Thank for that link! It was an encouragement to read.

      I really should write a Part II post where I explain that wild children also make a boring, introverted family much more fun than they would have been without him. 🙂

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