“Such a handsome fellow he is”, thought his mother, watching him run wildly on the green grass. Sure, every mother probably said so, but ten look at him! Such sturdy legs, what boundless energy and his father’s frame; not that she’d seen that stud since Sonny was conceived. Men! Even the suggestion of responsibility and they’d take off in the opposite direction. In any case, she had Sonny, didn’t she?
She watched him breathless gulp a drink of water before running back to the unruly group of boys he was playing with, the lot tumbling and kicking and squealing and otherwise making a thorough nuisance of themselves. No one seemed to mind though. This was a farm after all and if kids couldn’t make a bit of noise out here, where else could they possibly do so? And again, boy would be boys and they didn’t seem to know how to do anything quietly. Sonny certainly didn’t.
Being a good mother was a tough job, she thought, and becoming tougher by the day. Proper eating, proper company, protection, lots of sleep… the list was unending, and to add to that there were the stories. Ghastly people who carried off bunches of frolicking children who were never again heard from. She worried constantly about the safety of the children out there; it was nearly impossible to keep an eye on all the children all the time, even if all the mums on the farm took turns to do so. Thankfully, nothing of the sort had ever happened at this property though stories were frequently exchanged in hushed whispers across fences and over window sills.
That this farm hadn’t seen the kind of hair raising stuff that happened elsewhere wasn’t such a surprise. This wasn’t as much a home as it was an institution, with all the situations and practices associated with old families. Tradition was never taken lightly here.
For instance, the first Mondays of the week would have one see a stream of all kinds of breads being baked in the large kitchens around the back. Cooks with floury arms and clothes yelling curses and directions in equal measure to goggle-eyed, stressed young assistants who ran in crisscrossing paths all through the kitchen, occasionally smiling at the throngs of children outside clamouring for a freshly baked loaf or bun and sometimes sneaking a few to them, away from the watchful eyes of the cooks. Sonny and the boys loved fresh bread!
Another long standing tradition was the education of the boys; a tearful day that came by once a year when all the mothers would pack off their boys to school, where they would stay until completion. It was hard, but she’d done this so many times in the past, that the thought of Sonny going the same way did cause an ache, but a dull, deep pain and not the terrifying fear that characterised the first few partings.
Sighing, she once again turned her fond gaze to Sonny. She hadn’t ever been off the farm, nor could she read so well, but hoped the school called, “Acme Butchers Est. 1930” as written on the sides of the van, was a place that lived up to everyone’s expectations. After all, everyone wants their children to be successful in life.