I started my day reading the wisdom of Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge. He hit on some interesting points about society, parenting and the state of women.
And then Ella showed up. It was two years ago, when she was three and a half years old, that she first visited the Mountain Lane Farm. She is just one of those singularly, self-composed adults masquerading as children. Against the back-drop of helicopter parenting and advice on how to growing strong women, I remembered of what it means to be a kid exploring the world.
Yes, she got very dusty and dirty, and her fingernails were black from scratching Night’s neck and softly saying, “Good girl.” As I stepped up to lead them, she leaned down and pointed to Night’s ears. “I know when she is listening to me because that ear points backward.” There is nothing else like the giggles that rush, uncontrollably when you first trot on a horse.
Ella climbed over fence with me and wandered around the pony and donkey pen. The curious, furry beings gathered around her. Yes, one of them could have bitten, kicked or knocked her down. But they didn’t and they wouldn’t. They felt no fear because she had none. “MOM!! Don’t step on the round stuff! It’s POOP!!”
But more pointedly was her parent’s reaction to all this dirt and discovery. They are not large animal aficionados; didn’t have the same lack of fear that Ella and I had around things that could hurt you. Though they foolishly trusted me with their daughter’s well-being, they also exuded a calm about Ella and how the world deals with her. I applaud their courage.
We next went to my house to drop a car before going to town for lunch. Ella ran in and asked if she could go up to the “attic” and knew exactly where the toys were from two years ago. Then the terror set in, she was afraid to go down the metal, spiral staircase. Her mom handed her half way down to me and I looked into her face and said, “You just rode a 1200 pound horse Miss Ella. You are the bravest girl I know.”
Ella’s mom mentioned a post I had shared on Facebook about Lindsay Eaves Hunter and the women who retrieved the fossils believed to be a new species of ancestral human. The particular repost I shared was a quote from the story in the Atlantic Monthly by a site called A Mighty Girl. Ella’s mom had followed the links, read the story and went on to find a wealth of books and projects she wanted to share with Ella.
Meanwhile, Ella was carefully acquainting herself with the house and Alice. She skipped back into the livingroom and announced “There’s a room right over there with another couch! Do you know I found two bathrooms?!!?!” She started to bounce on the couch when her dad said “probably most folks didn’t bounce on their couches” and she promptly stopped, wandering off again. In extreme fits of happiness, I’ve been known to bounce on my couch and I am 12 times older than Ella…
There is hope; at the very least, a girl can lean and dream…