Saturday, February 28, 2009

Family, What doesn't Kill You Just Makes You Stranger.

I apologize profusely if you have read this topic before. But it is one that continues to fascinate me. The topic I am referring to is, how we all survived into adulthood in one piece??





Don't get me wrong I am a firm believer in carseats, sunscreen and soap when it comes to my kids. But when I was growing up carseats and sunscreen weren't that common and soap wasn't anti-bacterial. My mom was more on top of that stuff but my parents divorced when I was 3 years old and my younger brother and I saw our Dad every other weekend. Those were the Wild Card Weekends, anything goes. My Dad fed us, made sure we got sleep and had good manners but after that we were wild and free. And we turned out pretty good. We aren't the Obamas but we are better than the Osbournes. And we had a lot of fun!



My kids have the safest carseats imaginable but I would often ride in my Dad's bronco sitting on the cooler between the 2 front seats, or in the back of his pickup safely ensconced in the camper shell with roof shingles, nails and fish bait. When we were camping, and I wasn't underage driving, we sat perched on the tailgate holding on for dear life.

For years my Dad owned this orange Dodge van with a dark blue interior. It was so ugly, but comfy and fun. The only seats in that van were the two front bucket seats which were occupied by my Dad and his wife. So me, Bill and my step-mom's 2 daughters sat on the carpeted floor or on the bed in back. All 4 of us could sit on that bed, it was really comfy, but safe it was not. This van also had a fridge (mostly full of fish bait) and a sink with running water. My Dad, like most Dads I have ever met, has a serious time-line when it comes to road trips. So whenever any of us had to pee instead of pulling over we would just pee in that sink and rinse it down with water. I am so glad we never got in any accidents especially when I was sitting on that sink. Flying through a windshield is bad enough but doing it with your pants down would add insult to injury.


We were outside a lot as kids and I barely remember putting on sunscreen. I will be sending my Dad my dermatology bill. I can understand why just a little bit because after I finish lathering up my 3 monkeys almost 30 minutes has gone by. Dad was great about bug spray but hair and teeth brushing and baths, too time consuming. I have very naturally curly hair that my Mom insisted I wear in an afro style. Very traumatic hairdo for a white girl to have in the '70's but I would fight tooth and nail whenever a brush came my way so it had to be kept short. Now that I have kids of my own I have forgiven her for this. My Dad had no desire to waste his precious weekend time fighting with me about brushing my hair, so it just didn't happen. By Sunday
night we would return to our Mom's house sunburned, smelly and I would have dreadlocks.

When my Dad's 2nd wife's daughters first met me they thought I was a mentally retarded boy. Sad because I was already sprouting breasts but I covered those up with a couple of tank tops under a baggy shirt. While meeting Ana and Rachel for the first time, they were so girly and pretty looking I was mute with shyness. So they thought I was a mentally retarded boy who didn't talk. Nice.


Of all the moms I know the quickest way to strike a look of fear in their eyes is to mention drowning. But growing up there seemed to be ungaurded standing water everywhere. Pools without fences, plastic kiddie pools left out in the sun to warm up, (I empty mine immediately when the kids are done), and when camping with my Dad we often went to campgrounds with rivers and lakes. We were free to wander for hours and he would even let us take out his aluminum fishing boat with an outboard motor. My step-sister cured him of that when she dropped the motor in the middle of the lake, Doh! But nobody ever drowned. So am I completely paranoid ? Because I have a barely 2 inch creek behind my house, which my kids would need to scale a 6 ft. fence to get to and I am not going to let them go back there unsupervised until they are in their late teens.

Ok I can go on and on about all the wondeful and highly dangerous activities that we enjoyed as kids but I want to hear other moms' stories. What crazy stuff did you do as a kid? What stuff are you willing to let your kids do? What is an absolute No-No for your kids?


I have to say that I am very strict about water safety but I let my kids climb on everything and get really dirty and they eat random stuff off of the ground all of the time. Gross but basically I can't get to them fast enough and who knows what stuff gets in their gullet when I am not looking. I will let my kids shoot a gun but only under the supervision of my brother Bill or my brother-in-law Chris. Bill is a Navy Seal and Chris has been safely shooting since a child so I trust them.

Feel free to share in the comments section. Of course the funnier the better.




8 comments:

Clare said...

This is by far my favorite post that you have written. I was stuck to the computer screen! We too were crammed into the front seat without seatbelts.

Charlotte said...

I had to stop myself before it turned into a book! So you managed to survive to, and I am glad you did!

Britta said...

My parents used to take us white-water rafting when we were little. No joke. Picture my little brother, as a baby, on the floor of the rubber raft, which totally could have flipped at any given time. (Never did though--at least not with babies in the boat. The one time a raft flipped, I think it was mostly only adults in the boat. And lots of expensive fishing gear, lost forever.)

Later my family graduated to a water-ski type boat. They used to let me sit in the very front of the boat, straddling the railing, with no life jacket, while my then-11 year old little brother drove the boat at top speed through narrow canyons.

Good times, oh yeah.

Charlotte said...

Oh jeez a baby in a boat that's a good one. And underage driving I love it. I am actually pretty ok with underage driving in a uncrowded campground and within the speed limits.

Mama Ashley said...

OMG!!!! I can't stop laughing. Your weekends was my every-day-life cause I grew up with just my dad. And yet I am an ubbberrr-strick/paranoid mom!

Jennifer said...

I grew up in hot, humid Florida (cursing my frizzy curls). In the summertime, my mother would stay inside all day blasting the A/C and drinking wine, while banishing the kids to the great outdoors until dusk.

My best friend Lexy and I were 7 years old and both had younger siblings who were 2. I thought Lexy was the luckiest kid because her house was filled with junk food (my hippie parents denied us all forms of sugar or caffeine), she had MTV (hippies don't have cable), and she owned a little red wagon.

On hot days (which is to say, every day), we would take our two toddler siblings, stick them in the wagon, and fill the remaining crevices with Twinkies and Ding Dongs. We would then drag the wagon (and the sweating babies) to the other end of the neighborhood, sneak through some backyards, and down a ravine to the creek.

The creek had a fast current and we would stand knee-deep attempting to catch tadpoles and occasionally screaming "Water moccasin!" We let the little ones splash in the water (until the time my sister lost a shoe, it rapidly floated away, and I had to race down the banks to retrieve it so my mother wouldn't kill me). Then we would spread out a blanket for a picnic of Hostess delights.

I recently told this story to my mother, who (a) didn't know there was even a creek in the vicinity of our neighborhood, and (b) had no idea we took our siblings there in a wagon. Of course, she also didn't wonder where we were for 8 hours each day and certainly didn't bother speculating whether or not we had drowned. Ah, the freewheeling 70s.

Jennifer said...

I grew up in hot, humid Florida (cursing my frizzy curls). In the summertime, my mother would stay inside all day blasting the A/C and drinking wine, while banishing the kids to the great outdoors until dusk.

My best friend Lexy and I were 7 years old and both had younger siblings who were 2. I thought Lexy was the luckiest kid because her house was filled with junk food (my hippie parents denied us all forms of sugar or caffeine), she had MTV (hippies don't have cable), and she owned a little red wagon.

On hot days (which is to say, every day), we would take our two toddler siblings, stick them in the wagon, and fill the remaining crevices with Twinkies and Ding Dongs. We would then drag the wagon (and the sweating babies) to the other end of the neighborhood, sneak through some backyards, and down a ravine to the creek.

The creek had a fast current and we would stand knee-deep attempting to catch tadpoles and occasionally screaming "Water moccasin!" We let the little ones splash in the water (until the time my sister lost a shoe, it rapidly floated away, and I had to race down the banks to retrieve it so my mother wouldn't kill me). Then we would spread out a blanket for a picnic of Hostess delights.

I recently told this story to my mother, who (a) didn't know there was even a creek in the vicinity of our neighborhood, and (b) had no idea we took our siblings there in a wagon. Of course, she also didn't wonder where we were for 8 hours each day and certainly didn't bother speculating whether or not we had drowned. Ah, the freewheeling 70s.

Charlotte said...

That is awesome Jennifer! That's another thing in the 70's, really small children were left in the care of children that weren't that much older. I would be 8 years old watching my 2 and 5 year old brothers while my mom and stepdad went out late. That's crazy!

Mama Ashley, wow that must have been something to just grow up with your Dad. It's funny how people rebel. Like me and you are very strict but someone who grew up in a strict household might be really permissive with their kids.