I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and since my parents worked long hours and had a lengthy commute, my non-school time involved very little supervision. In those days (and it really wasn’t that long ago), leaving eight- and ten-year-old children alone during the time between school bus drop-off and arrival of the parents after a day at the factory didn’t constitute child-neglect. My eight-year-old brother had a more structured existence. He was supervised by ten-year-old me. Translation: it’s amazing we survived childhood.
What could possibly happen in those three hours each day? We had chores to keep us busy, right?
Here’s what we actually did…
*Had races. On real horses. At full gallop, through the woods.
*Had tin can fights. Did I mention we loaded the cans with rocks because the weight made the throw more accurate?
*Went swimming in the lake. Said-lake had been created from a gravel pit, and thus had a very deep drop-off.
*Went fishing in the beaver pond. Several water moccasins enjoyed the same water.
*Played circus knife-thrower. You guessed it—with the kitchen butcher knife.
*Tried to create fire by rubbing stones together. Fortunately for the hundred-acre forest, we never succeeded.
*Had target practice with B-B guns. Enough said.
*Played Zorro. Sword fights involved sticks sharpened with the circus-play butcher knife.
*Tested bed sheets to determine if they could be used as parachutes. Testing involved jumping from the roof. Note: Bed sheets do not make good parachutes.
*Drove the tractor to the neighbor’s house (in first gear the entire trip). Note: The neighbor gave us a lecture but never ratted us out. I don’t think the tractor ever ran the same.
*Made up stories. Probably the only safe thing we did. At least until we turned the stories into live-action plays.
Did my mom know about our activities? Of course not. She would have killed us.
My childhood didn’t seem like a near-death experience at the time, but a few years later, I freaked because my five-year-old daughter went roller skating without a helmet. I guess times really have changed. J
Styrofoam Corpse, a mystery/suspense novel, will be available in November.