Summer Kids

Thursday by Rieshy
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My 8 year old was buying a Nerf brand bow set at a thrift store.  The woman behind the counter seemed confused by the transaction.  She kept looking at me and then asked, "What will he shoot with that?"

"His brothers," was my glib response.  Her look of outraged horror caught me by surprise.
Sigh- and walk to the car with my body blocking our license plate numbers.

I visited both my sisters recently and we discussed our own free-range childhood.  We spent summers dropped off at a quarry swim club.  A QUARRY.  Who knows what heavy metals we were swimming in.  It was deep enough that the Loch Ness Monster's little sister could very well have been in residence.  They had cliff diving off of real cliffs.  Cliffs you had to climb trails to get to with substances called sharp rocks, mud and weeds.  The parking lot was gravel covered with tar that melted in the summer afternoon heat.  Every evening I sat on the side of our bathtub with turpentine removing the tar that had stuck to my feet (rather painfully) on the way back to the car at the end of the day.

When I smell turpentine I always think "swimming".

My Dad was reminiscing about his childhood on a farm in West Texas and how they basically left the house after chores and didn't come back until the triangle bell that hung near the farm house's back door was rung.  At one point he and his brother only had one arrow for a bow.  It was a hunting bow of some sort, mind you- definitely not Nerf brand.  They would stand on opposite sides of a pasture shooting the arrow back and forth to each other.

The line between free-range and loneliness? The line between overbearing smothering and intentionality?

Who knows. It takes 20+ years to find out, as a parent, if you achieved the right balance but by then the parenting culture will have changed and suddenly what seemed rational will become fodder for crazy stories.



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1 comment:

CristyLynn said...

Your summers sound amazing! I find myself missing fireflies these days. Can you believe that they don't have fireflies in the Pacific Northwest! Thankful for a trip to the Southeast this summer to remind my kids about that important part of summer. :)

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