Farm Fact: as a kid here in the Irish countryside you don’t necessarily have loads of neighborhood friends. Your “neighbors” might live a mile away so it’s not as easy to meet other children (if there are any) and have a constant stream of neighborhood playmates as you might have in the city. Thankfully, Geoffrey is meeting a few new friends at his Montessori (who will attend the same grade school as well), but at the moment most of his mates are my girlfriend’s children who live in Limerick City so we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like to. (note to self, must get out more!)
We usually spend summers in the USA, which is when differences in farm vs. city life really come to light. This past summer we stayed with our friends who live in a lively city neighborhood. So, as it goes, the street is right in front of their house and all around there are loads of small children playing away in their yards. Geoffrey, the social butterfly that he is, thought this was just the bee’s knees and kept trying to run across the road, not realizing how dangerous it was. (second note to self, maybe those harnesses aren’t such a bad idea). Basically speaking, he had no real concept of how a city street operated and so he had no fear. Glad he had no fear because I now need a triple bypass.
City Fact: there is a lively stream of colourful and exciting things to do with kids when you live in the city….children’s museums, art galleries, science museums, the zoo, karate, the pool, gymnastics, yoga, T-ball, the State Fair—everything is go, go, go and it seems that there is never, ever a dull moment. Nearly every restaurant in the USA is child-friendly (the opposite of Ireland) which is so brilliant. All summer Geoffrey enjoyed nonstop playtime with friends, relatives and neighbors and was in absolute heaven. I personally grew up in a beautiful small Midwestern town where summers meant playing outside with loads of friends until at least dusk every day…we would use an entire 3-4 block area to play kickball, hide & seek, kick the can or ring-doorbell-run (ssshhhh). It makes me happy to know that my son will be able to experience at least some of the same quirky people, places and things of my childhood as he grows up too—as this is very important business!
On the flip side, I have to remember that through his eyes Geoffrey is basically living a child’s dream here in the Irish countryside…what we read in his books and see in movies, he lives! Charming castles, enchanting forests, sweet calves, little lambs, huge trucks, noisy tractors, busy building sites, prickly hedgehogs and red foxes with big fluffy tails…this is the “stuff of his life” here. What’s more is that he positively adores all things farm. He gets to go with Daddy or Grandad on various machines(the cool new John Deere models have an additional small seat and harness for your child)and do his “work” and he loves helping to feed all the farm animals on a regular basis. Sure, we have to use our imagination a little more and be more creative to make our fun here, but that’s not such a bad thing. He loves playing outside with the dogs and going on “adventures”. We have planted an area of trees on one part of the land and that is now his “magic forest”(thank you Cat). There is also a lovely little stream running through the front yard over which he has built a bridge for his fishing “trips”. Our two Pyrenees dogs are “polar bears” and Ted is.. just Ted I guess. I love that Geoffrey much prefers gallivanting around the yard than playing on his swing set or his toys when we are here at home in Ireland.
My only concern is that our little boy is beginning to become sensitive to the sun. He complains when it is sunny (which is hardly ever) and when we went to the States last summer, it took a couple weeks for him to adjust to the intensely sunny days..it was really blinding to him. But of course, after he adjusted, he couldn’t get enough of it (SPF 50) and by the time we got back to Ireland the weather here really started to get to him. He kept asking Daddy when it was going to stop raining. “Because if it doesn’t Dad, we’ll just have to go back to America!”
Thank you so much for your loyal readership. I really enjoy writing and sharing these pieces with you all. I also want to say a special thank you to Liam and Corey of Irish Fireside whom interviewed me for their holiday podcast–we had a lot of fun! They have a great website and are currently featuring a holiday gift guide with lots of Irish goodies…so have a look.