altSometimes when the kids come home from school they’ll mention they had a substitute or “sub.”

This can have one of two verdicts – a great day because the person chose to follow the teacher’s lesson plans and rules, or a not-so-great day because the person lost control of the classroom and the predictability of a “regular” classroom schedule went out the window.

Substitute teachers have been a hot topic in our household lately with teacher meetings, teachers out due to illness and workshops. Mostly, the recent “subs” have gotten a good grade from the Harris kids. The consequences at school and at home are more severe if our children do not behave well for a person filling in.

We are in the throes of winter chores around here with a lot of extra things to do. My husband went away on a pheasant hunting excursion with some of his buddies last weekend. Prior to his departure to Kansas, we had a practice run of all the things I would have to do in his absence from the farm. Overnight, I became the farmer’s sub. I’m not usually the one feeding daily hay bales to the cows and horses. He decided I probably needed a refresher course under his close supervision. I think he was more worried about potential damage to fences and gates than he was the old Ford tractor, After our practice run he was convinced I had a good handle on what I needed to do every day to get all the horses and livestock fed.

For four days I was able to get into a pretty good routine of taking the kids to school and getting home in time to put out round bales for the animals. At one farm, I simply had to drive by and check the status of each field. If the hay was gone, I had to open a new gate for the cows to get to more bales that had already been put out. On Saturday, I noticed our 8-year-old son was following me closely on the Razor. I waved at him, thinking he’d drive on by but he didn’t. He watched me intently as I finished my chores. Little did I know, he was spying on me to see if I hit any gates or fences with the tractor. I’m sure he was anxious to report to his dad what happened with all the animals, chores and the tractor of course.

On Sunday, the day my husband was heading back home from his trip, I took duct tape and made makeshift tape-fix jobs on a few of our farm’s gates. I was hoping to have a little bit of fun with him since apparently, he was worried I’d have an accident or two. He never mentioned the duct tape but I’m sure he wanted to, and it disappeared by Monday morning.

Just like students tell their teachers EXACTLY how things went with the substitute upon their return, our little 8-year-old reporter gave a full disclosure to his dad. I thankfully received an A-plus report, I cannot believe there was ever a doubt.

Filling in for someone who does really great work can be a tough job. A little coaching and a lot of grace can go a long way. This applies to substitute teachers and farmers, neighbor.


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