When we look back on it, I think we will say that Nora’s first love was a horse named Angus.
He has been sitting in our backyard for several years, ever since some older friends outgrew him and he needed a new home. As the youngest in a chain of families, our children often receive special things that other kids no longer want to keep but also don’t want to give away completely. If things live at our house, the thinking goes, the bigger kids might be able to come visit them sometimes.
They almost never actually do need to come visit their old things, but I think it makes it easier to rehome them if the possibility exists- we can see them again if we need to!
Angus has been occasionally ridden by many people, but he truly began to live a couple of weeks ago when Nora suddenly adopted him. After checking out every book on horse care from our little local library, she relocated him from his square of dead grass near the sand table to a space she cleared out under our play structure, which she now calls “Angus’s stable.” She put down a bed of straw and grass from the field for him, which she cleans out every day and replaces with new grass. She brings him water and “oats” (a mixture of sand and clover and crushed sea shells) in a bucket every day. She takes him out to the field, dragging the heavy metal frame with its springs behind her, and “trains” him, then carefully reinstalls him in his stable and rubs him down with a cloth before covering him with his “horse blanket” – an old towel we use when we occasionally decide to wash our van.
She does all of these things in all kinds of weather, wearing her flowered “horse working” boots.
Her devotion is inspiring and a little puzzling. I’ve never seen her take care of anything with such joy or dedication. She throws on her coat and mittens after breakfast, pulls on her boots, and heads out the back door, calling, “Gotta go do my horse chores now!” before skipping off to rub noses with Angus.
She and I have struggled together lately to do things with a cheerful heart. It’s hard sometimes to help her navigate through the bumps of her day when she just wants to sit down and complain about the parts she doesn’t like…and for my part, it’s hard for me to admit that God didn’t create her strong will for me to control! It’s amazing how this self-assigned plastic horse has given her such purpose. It’s amazing how Angus has easily created a rhythm in her morning that has nothing to do with me. It’s amazing how willingly she does her other chores in the morning so that she’ll have time to take care of Angus before our morning meeting. It’s amazing, because I couldn’t have come up with this as a Nora management strategy, and it’s amazing because she didn’t need me to come up with it at all.
She did it all by herself.
Sometimes, parenting is hard…but sometimes, we make it harder than it is. Sometimes, our kids know exactly what they need. Sometimes, we just need to trust them to figure it out.