Country kids sleepover versus city kids sleepover

"I milked a cow who just had a calf and the calf wouldn't suck," said Anika on a Sunday morning when she returned from a sleepover at a friend's house. We listened intently over Sunday dinner at my in-law's house to Anika's stories.


"I milked a cow who just had a calf and the calf wouldn't suck," said Anika on a Sunday morning when she returned from a sleepover at a friend's house. We listened intently over Sunday dinner at my in-law's house to Anika's stories.

The next day, I was in downtown Fargo for meetings, 175 miles from home, when I was asked, "How do we get our city kids connected to the land?"

I started out with a suggestion of 4-H clubs, and then I said, "And they can come visit me on the prairie and have a sleepover!"

Our 7-year-old daughter, Anika, bravely ventures out to sleepovers at friends' houses, while our 9-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, prefers the comforts of her own bed, just down the hall from us. Sleepovers are not her thing, even though adventures are. Last weekend Elizabeth went with friends and parents to a 4-H archery meet. I met up with them, because Elizabeth was more relaxed having me there.

When I was a kid, I was more like Anika. I loved sleepovers. I lived in town, though, as my parents didn't move to the farm full time until I was graduating from high school. In town, sleepovers were easy to coordinate with friends who lived less than a mile away. We had to know and trust their family, and my mom had to talk to their parents. Once the relationship and routine were established, sleepovers with a neighborhood friend, particularly in the summertime or on a school break, became standard in my childhood.


My younger siblings all were raised on the farm, 26 miles from their school. I think they can count their combined sleepovers with childhood friends on one hand. Rarely, a friend rode the bus with them for a sleepover. But those were nothing like the four nights in a row of back-and-forth sleepovers my childhood best friend, Sara, and I used to have in town.

Sara and I never had a sleepover that involved milking cows or calving. She did go horseback riding a time or two with me at the farm. She also went on a family vacation with us to Baltimore and Washington D.C. when we were elementary students. Mostly we watched Brady Bunch reruns, played with our Cabbage Patch dolls, went swimming, rode bikes and had homemade lemonade stands. We sometimes sold our prized painted rock collections, painted with our Wet n' Wild nail polish, which we rode bikes to purchase at Ben Franklin for $1.06 with tax. We would stay up to paint one another's toes and nails ... and paint rocks to sell. The only painted rock buyers I remember were our own dads.

Anika came home from her sleepover last weekend with memories that certainly do not match mine.

"Mom that calf sucked on the cow's tail! That's not where the milk comes out," she said. "It must not have had a brain!" We assured her the calf had a brain or it wouldn't be breathing. She understood.

Then Anika, who has dreams of being a veterinarian, proceeded to ask for rabbits, a baby goat, lamb and her own beef calves. Her non-livestock father is never enthused about her ideas. But he definitely will keep letting her go on livestock themed sleepovers to trusted farm friend's homes.

Neighborhoods commonly are not as tight knit it seems as they were when I was younger, where trusted friendships and mutual parental understanding allowed parents to freely permit us to go back and forth between one another's homes. I imagine city kid sleepover night's have more entertainment today like video games, visits to the mall or to the new indoor trampoline park my kids have heard of but not visited, Sky Zone.

Whether your kids are country kids or city kids, at the heart of sleepovers are budding friendships. I guard and watch closely the friendships my kids develop at this young, tender age. I do my best to protect them without keeping them in a bubble. I know milking a cow to help a newborn calf might blossom into a forever friendship like I still hold with Sara, the friend who no matter how many miles are between us knows me well from a lifetime of shared experiences.

My country kids need a city experience from time to time and maybe you know a city kid who could use a country adventure. Let's give our kids more adventures with a few trusted friends to experience it with.


Editor’s note: Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at .

Katie Pinke

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