As we drove by a tractor last fall, my 1-year-old son cried out, “Tractor, Daddy, Papa!” and started crying. He desperately wanted out of his car seat and into the random tractor where he assumed Daddy or Papa would be.
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I never imagined that some of my son’s first words would be associated with a farm. Like most children, many of his first words are things he sees on a daily basis, such as a “truck” or “tractor,” even though his new thing is to call every vehicle a “car”—my husband says that’s “his mom rubbing off on him.” (Before I moved to the country I, too, called every vehicle a car; I’ve learned over the past five years that cars, SUVs, trucks, and pickups are all vehicles, not simply “cars,” and that I need to distinguish between them if I want to look like I know what I’m talking about…which I admit, sometimes I’m lost when it comes to farming lingo.) My son also knows all his farm animal sounds and recently has started to call every animal he sees in a field “a horse”; we think it’s pretty funny but are quick to correct him and tell him that it’s a cow or a pig instead, which is followed by the correct sound that animal makes.
So, when it came time for our son’s first tractor ride this planting season, you can only imagine his excitement. I was also eager for a tractor ride since I hadn’t seen my husband for a few days. There are days and weeks that go by without seeing him due to his early mornings and very late nights. Unless it rains, it could be a week or two where Daddy only comes home to sleep and leaves before the sun is up to get back in the tractor. On those mornings when my son’s first waking word is, “Daddy?” I respond with, “Daddy took his truck to go work in the tractor.” And even when I ask him during the day, “Where’s Daddy?” he answers, “Truck, work, bye bye.” Yes, I know, he’s a smart one! Even though he may not see his Daddy every day during planting or harvest, I am sure to remind him that he is farming—a job that some day he will share with his Daddy, “Papa” (his grandpa), and hopefully, “Gramps” (his great-grandfather).
I was sure to capture the “1st Tractor Ride of the Season” on camera and text pictures to my family in the suburbs so they could also see the father-son farming taking place. Although my roots are planted in the suburbs, I’ve sown news ones here in the country, and I enjoy watching my now 1.5-year-old son and 8-month-old daughter grow up around farming. I am proud of my husband and the care he takes when planting and harvesting the land, and I know our years of raising children will be filled with more “firsts” around the farm…for them and for me.