When did you know you were grown up?
Norma took her time walking back home through the pasture after checking the cows. She gauged the time by the sun: she’d be expected home to help with supper in another half hour. She had found two of their cows ready to drop new calves by tomorrow. She’d let Pa know where they were, so he could check on them later tonight.
She glanced up as she heard the buzz of a small plane. There was Mr Griffin, blowing out the cobs and checking the area fields. He dipped his wings and waved at Norma. She waved back and sighed. How she would love to be in that pilot seat right now! Oh, to fly!
Norma tarried just a bit longer in the beautiful outdoors before she headed inside. It was a cheerful, comfortable home, full of brothers and sisters playing or trying to go about their business. “Wash up, Norma, and start the potatoes,” Ma called over her shoulder. She was putting in the biscuits and rocking the baby at the same time.
Everyone gathered at the supper table – all ten children with Ma and Pa. Norma was fourth in line, after her big brother and two elder sisters. It was a noisy, jostling affair each day, with each one eager to share their experiences and ideas and questions. Pa was the conductor, quietly but firmly heading off, or encouraging or reproving by a nod or a smile or a look.
Just before time to clear the dishes, Pa scraped his chair back a little and cleared his throat. Everyone looked expectantly at him.
“Well, Ma,” he started.” Looks like we’ll have a good amount of chickens coming up, for laying and eggs.”
Ma smiled and nodded.
“There’ll be a fair amount of work for the younger crowd tomorrow. Robert brought the straw wagon around, so it’s lined up. The little ones can help clear out the cow barn; then the chicken coop needs a good cleaning, and it’ll need fresh straw. He looked at the younger faces. “Make sure you’re looking for eggs before you start throwing straw around.” They nodded. Lucille and two of the younger boys shot an impish grin toward Norma. These were usually Norma’s chores, tho’ they were supposed to be helping. It wasn’t one of Norma’s favorite ways to spend time, but at least it was outdoor work. She was glad of her older and younger sisters, plenty of ’em for helping Ma inside.
Pa and Ma exchanged twinkles in their eyes.
Pa continued. “Now Robert, here, as the oldest, has been my right-hand man for a long time. But, you know, he’s taken a job working out. So,” he paused for dramatic effect. “So tomorrow, I’ll need Norma to hop into the tractor and work in the field.” He smiled at Norma. “Think you can handle that?”
Norma beamed. Could she ever!
That night, Norma carefully laid out her work clothes for the next day. She sure didn’t want to be late! She smirked just a little at the younger ones’ dismay over her new chores: this meant they’d have to take over the chicken house and barn mucking. As she lay her head on the pillow, Norma mused, “I’m an adult now. Really grown up. I wonder what else being an adult will mean for me?”