Best and Worst Days as a Kid + a Childhood Dream come True
When I was little there were some things that made for best days:
- Summer camp (nope, never got to go, just read about it)
- Fresh peach pie
- Lilac bushes so big where, if you squirmed your way to the middle, no one could see you
- Getting to participate in spelling bees
- Outings to the zoo and Ha Ha Tonka Park
- Library runs (mom never could get chores out of us that day)
- Tree and club houses
- Watching "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" twice because our mothers said only ONE movie. They didn't say how often.
- Going to Grandma's house for a huge meal: with 2 kinds of meat, potatoes, homemade noodles with brown butter, pickles, olives (nope, not those) bread, butter and the best strawberry jam, green beans, corn, cake, pudding, ice cream and fruit compote.
- Jumping on the trampoline accompanied with a whole sack of shucked corn and old shoes.
- Ice cream sandwiches.
The worst days:
- Getting spanked for a siblings offense
- Rainy day for an outing planned to the zoo or park
- Seeing a sibling slip by without punishment because parent got distracted
- Cleaning weeds out of the strawberry bed
- Picking gallons and gallons and gallons and gallons of green beans on a hot Midwest day
- Wondering what would happen after the next Presidential election when this time, the AntiChrist would be elected if so-and-so didn't win (little pitchers have big ears).
- Having to swallow a pill or capsule.
- When your cousins wanted to play near the stinky billy goats.
- Hearing that there was a burglar loose in the area and having to go to a babysitter that night.
- Wondering if your friends, who were foster kids, would have to go back to their other parents and we'd never see them again.
- Peas for dinner.
- Having to cross a low-water bridge to get somewhere in spring. One heard stories of folks swept away by misjudging the depth in the middle.
A TREK TO THE TREEHOUSE
I wanted two things for most of my growing up: to go to summer camp and to have a treehouse. What could be more cool than to climb to a little house high up in the tree, that was just for kids?! When my nieces and nephews wanted to show me their tree house on their back 40, there was no way in a hot Oklahoman day that I was not going to go see that.
The dog accompanied us as we crunched across the dry grass: past the two ponds, through the fences, and crossed the dry creek bed. I could practically still smell the hot woods in Missouri, with the scraggly, dehydrated underbrush and the creek that might dry up any day now. Gone were the days of wriggling tadpoles in fresher waters; what was left now was the dry croak of frogs and buzzing of the cicadas.
We jumped across from the boulder to the sloped dirt on the other side, laughter echoing through the woods as we tripped up the path. If I let my imagination take over, it almost seemed like Matt and Timmy were ahead, and Andrew and Shelton behind as we were headed to a spot we knew would be grand for building an Indian teepee. Growing up with brothers and cousins for playmates is just about the best thing. I never even missed having a sister close to my age until I got older.
In terms of tree houses, this was a house among trees.
Remember being the youngest and watch everyone else do things first?
Putting their schooling to use with the help of their smart, builder dad, they put in place a pulley system to which they could hook things and haul them up and down. Little-BIG Wynstin was getting in line for that. And yes, he slays me, right before he wraps me around his little finger for keeps. I want to grab him and kiss those cheeks, but he's big enough to resent that, so I remain the cool aunt and play tag instead.
It's almost like he knew what I was thinking. See that slightly knowing look?
I had a great childhood, but I'd almost go back for another one just for a treehouse like this.
I think my nieces and nephews are some of the luckiest kids in the world, and part of it is that their parents put a significant amount of making sure their kids can be kids: unplugged, and with the chance to get dirty, get thrown from horses, build their own rafts for the pond, and come in with appetites as big as the Oklahoma sky.
'Scuse me, we're off to another adventure.
It's never too late to be a kid again: just play with kids. It's grand fun.