How about sizing up a comment made by my cousin’s husband?
“I am convinced that interacting with animals instills a certain amount of common sense in children.”
When I heard it, I just smiled. In fact, it sounded a bit humorous or even maybe a little far-fetched to my way of thinking. But, you know, since he said, that my mind keeps returning to that statement time and again. I’ll let you decide whether or not it is true.
As Julia, 5, keeps growing up and interacting with animals more and more, we also notice a developing maturity in feeling able and responsible to care for our pets. Take, for example, Julia and Austin. Both were thrilled with delight when a friend presented a fish bowl, goldfish, and pretty little stones to go with it, for their birthdays this past fall. Julia was especially impressed when Daddy explained to her that she is now the one responsible to feed the fish.
As she watches them grow and gives me reminders to change the water, she does really feel like she’s grown several inches. Every now and then, she comes to me standing as straight as possible asking if I think she has grown some more.
In talking about animals, horses rank among the top of Julia’s favorites. No one is as faithfully committed to giving them words of affirmation that Julia. If we are going up a hill with the horse and buggy, she calls out encouragingly, “Good girl, Sapphire!”
The cutest and best of all is Julia and her little puppies. She literally spends hours with them. Austin is right behind wanting to do everything Julia does whether it is cradling them in soft baby blankets or giving them rides in their toy dump truck. Of course, with him being a 2-year-old boy, I always need to “stay on his tail,” reminding him that pulling on the little puppies’ tails and things as such are not kind ways to treat these adorable little pets. Julia, on the other hand, is like a little mommy, talking to them as if they understood each word.
A week ago, Julia was absolutely in her glory when we told her she could take a puppy along to my parents, where they were hosting a hymn singing for our church that evening. She danced with delight as I helped her pack a purse with an extra blanket and so forth just in case. Sitting on her little seat in the back of the buggy her grin reached ear to ear as she clutched her little bundle. Upon arriving, Mom had prepared a tasty supper including a huge pot of soup with bologna slices on the side and jello salads and “company cake” for dessert. This was a perfect meal for a winter’s evening for the guests who had come for supper and singing.
Julia was a proud little mama as she showed her friends her little “girl,” which she had named Sugar.
This summer, we also hope to get chickens so we can have our own eggs and perhaps a cow or a goat for milk. A kitten is also on Julia’s list for the spring.
While our discussion here is primarily about the children and their love of animals and how this helps them develop, I would like to inject that I, too, enjoy trailing after Daniel, helping with the animal chores, or building fences for them. As a young girl, I loved the quiet freshness of the morning as I sometimes took a turn milking our goat or feeding the rabbits. Now since I am married, Daniel takes the primary responsibility for the farm-related things, though I do enjoy joining him.
Now, rewinding to my mother’s supper, I need to introduce you to my family’s “company cake” recipe. You can also drizzle a glaze over the cake if you desire, but the cake is also great without.
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients well and pour into two 8-inch greased cake pans.
Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Top all four cakes with crumbs. Cool and enjoy!