Who is the big bad wolf?

My homeschooling aunt from the deep South has moved her family to my grandparent’s farm for the week.  Its about 1 1/2 hours from the city. 

Today she is leaving her 3 kids, ages 12, 11, and 10 at the farm.  With 4 adults.  Apparently, three adults, one of whom is her husband, are not sufficient to watch 3 kids who are old enough to babysit other kids.  Another aunt took the day off work to watch them.

One of my uncles at the farm is the pied piper.  Kids and animals follow him around tirelessly – he is quiet, gentle and safe.   It was not a problem for him to be surrounded by the entourage until the abandoned baby moose who adopted him began to get protective of him.  She began to chase off the other animals and kids who wandered around behind him. 

But, I guess he is incapable of watching 3 kids.  Only of taking care of 100 animals.

I wonder what my aunt does at home when she wants to go out if she won’t leave her kids with her husband?  Or maybe she does and is just wary of the farm she grew up on.

I helped her out for a summer when her kids were newborn, 2 and 3, and she let me take out a few at a time, but I was never alone with all three of them.

When we asked why she couldn’t leave her 3 kids with the oldest in charge, my aunt said that they couldn’t feed themselves.  Since my 5 year old neighbour can fix herself a sandwich, I hardly doubt that is true. 

But, the three adults at the farm are all men.  And I guess no one but an older female can really make a sandwich or keep the kids from running barefoot in the frozen manure.  ?

I don’t understand.  I’m probably missing some important information.  But I do remember that they were really upset years ago when their toddler daughter refused to sit still to let me put pony tails in her hair.  Her little brother begged me to, and pretended he was a space alien/dinosaur with his hair sticking up in tufts all over his head.  They accused me of trying to make their son into a girl and their daughter into a boy.  I thought they were joking.

Maybe that is why I react when I hear about my aunt taking time off work to make sandwiches for tweenage kids.  Was my family always this weird?  Is this weird?

6 thoughts on “Who is the big bad wolf?

  1. St.ain't says:

    Reminds me of my grandfather- when g’ma died he just about starved. The family put g’ma on a pedestal, raving how g’pa never had to lift a finger, not even to pour himself a cup of coffee while St. G’ma breathed.
    I used to think it was simply generational, but that skewed ethos still lives- I taught evening sewing classes and women would show up with kids in tow because Dad couldn’t be trusted to watch his own children for two hours while Mom learned to make curtains. Half the class rolled their eyes and gave her free advice,e.g. if you can’t tend ’em don’t spawn ’em. The other half chanted about women’s roles vs. men’s roles; that men are the bread-winners while women are the bread bakers, etc.
    And yet there are so many stories of women doing both (running the farm and raising the kids after Pa died or ran off) or taking in boarders and sewing to survive the loss of the patriarch. You can cherry-pick stories of the reverse happening, but they seem far fewer in number.
    Is this a hallmark of certain religious persuasions? I witnessed this mind-set both in mormondumb and fundamentalist circles. The question is, how dumb are these men? If they feign incapability of taking care of the young, haven’t they just effectively lightened their load?

  2. Lorena says:

    My guess is that (1) she doesn’t think the guys are capable of feeding the children, and (2) she believes the “lowly” job is for women, not for the mighty men.

    She’s a nut job, isn’t she?

  3. D'Ma says:

    If this were my family I’d guess that the aunt was looking for an excuse to blow off work. 🙂

    How bad could dad really mess it up? My guess is he couldn’t mess up anything that couldn’t be fixed. Does he complain about having to tend his children?

    • prairienymph says:

      No, the dad is really good with kids.
      Perhaps my other aunt did want to take time off work. When I was little, I was scared of her. She only seemed to care about her cats, her plants and Rush Limbaugh radio. However, I think she may have a soft spot for my young cousins. I didn’t think of that.

  4. Chris B says:

    I think it may be for many of the reasons you suggest – women are to take care of the kids and it is their responsibility. But I also think it gives them a sense of purpose and hope for the future where maybe they don’t believe much hope exists. For the fundamentalist Christians I have known, life to them seems quite negative and apocalyptic, it must be a sad existence. It is an “us-vs.-them” existence, and if you’re not watching your children, something terrible could happen to them. After all, she’s listening to Rush Limbaugh! They are trying to maintain a constant “bubble” around the children that maintains their values and shields them from the outside world. They generally trust no one, possibly not even the men in their lives, and do not feel equal enough with the men to task them with any child-rearing duties.

    • prairienymph says:

      Thats true about purpose. I guess if you don’t have any interests or hobbies outside of children and house, then it becomes the biggest part of your identity. It could be threatening if someone else is good at it. My mom, who was working 3 jobs as well as cooking and cleaning, got really upset when my dad developed an interest in cooking. Instead of welcoming the break, she was worried that he would be better at cooking than she and take away her one claim to excellence.

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