Why I Admire Ma Ingalls by Janell Kaufman

I grew up on “Little House on the Prairie”. The TV show, the books, even my imaginary friend, Laura. I used to run home from school so that I could watch the rerun at 3:00 in the afternoon. I admire so much about the pioneering spirit and all that those who took the chance and moved west accomplished. If it weren’t for those pioneers I would not be here on the Far West Coast. The Westward movement has become my favorite era in history. Today I am admiring Ma Ingalls for those long winters spent in a one-room cabin with two little girls when it was too cold and snowy outside to leave the house.

It is day five of cold and snowy weather here in Western Washington and although the first two days were full of fun snowman building and sledding, by day three the snow wouldn’t pack anymore and the temperature dropped to below freezing, below zero with the wind chill. It wasn’t fun anymore! School has been cancelled all week and as a teacher that means work has been cancelled also. What to do with the kids? They have watched way too much TV (thank goodness that we never lost power), played on their DS and the Wii and attempted to do a little homework. That huge bucket of Lego has been put to good use and it is now spread out across the living room floor causing a hazardous walking zone (ever step on Lego with Bare feet? OUCH! Not that anyone is going barefoot since the house is too cold). The neighbors have come over for afternoons of playing board games and getting their kids out of the house.

Yesterday I had my first excursion out onto the roads. I went to the dentist. I was excited to go. It had gotten to the point where I was excited to go to the dentist. Wow!

But Ma didn’t have TV, or the Internet, or neighbors close by to help entertain her kids. They didn’t have a big bucket of Lego, or audio books downloadable to the kids’ iphone. The girls might have each had one doll, maybe made out of corn husks; the Bible was often the only reading available (and really, how many times can you read the Bible over again before you are tired of it?). Ma certainly didn’t have the hours of mindless entertainment that the TV provides to our kids. She didn’t even have the opportunity to send them into another room when they got on her nerves.

So I salute that pioneering spirit and tenacity. I don’t know if I could do it. Ma Ingalls, and all other pioneering women, you were some brave souls!

Janell Kaufman is a graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in English Literature and Communications. She is a teacher and mom of a eleven-year old girl and an adopted, eight-year old boy. She  is highly emotional (read: cries all the time), and often puts her foot in her mouth. Janell has been an avid journal keeper for over 25 years and is currently working on a fiction novel, when she can find the time.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Liz
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 10:54:07

    I wonder what Nellie, Nels, and Harriet Oleson’s house was like when they were stuck inside for days…I shutter to think! ;)


  2. Myra Elwell
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 09:51:09

    Having grown up in a traditional “Old South” family, I can tell you what Ma Ingalls and her girls were doing: Lots and lots of sewing, quilting and knitting. *lol* I can’t tell you how many hours I spent inside doing these things in the winter time. We were not allowed to bicker or fight or whine about being bored. (That was a sure way for both my mom and my grandma to find lots and lots of base boards for us to scrub!) While there was T.V., it was not allowed to be on until after 5pm. I think I quilted, sewed, knitted and crocheted until my eyes crossed many years. And when the weather got warmer, we were outside like a shot. We normally got a couple of days to burn off all that cabin fever energy before we were put to work Spring cleaning and getting ready for planting. Sometimes, I wish there were more of that sort of thing for kids today. I think it would create more of a spirit of community. :-)


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