It’s not raining; there is blue sky and the birds are chirping. The roosters are also hollering themselves hoarse. Earlier, I sent the boys off with water, oranges and clif bars to either die or walk up and down the driveway a few times. I just saw the middle child traipsing into the backyard so I’m assuming the latter applies to all three.
It’s Sunday, post daylight-saving clock fuck-around and here we are. I woke up in the middle of the night because my bodyclock apparently lost 4 hours. After doodling pointlessly for that amount of time, I woke up after a nap feeling refreshed and relieved. I filled the boys’ camel baks and patted their heads on the way out the door to sit on my ass in peace and quiet for as long as they would be gone.
It got me thinking about what I was doing in terms of adventure at a similar age, and also about the articles of crazy crackdowns on parents who are punished by society (or police) for giving their kids different amounts of independence than what people other than their parents think is appropriate.
Cue the Wayne’s World guys doing the doodley-doos with waving fingers…
We lived on a flat street that was U-shaped and the sign at one end said Pelsart St and the sign at the other end said Pelsart Ave. I didn’t think this was a big deal until a teacher told me that Pelsart St Ave was not a thing and it had to be one or the other. Live a little, people! My sister and I rode our bikes up and down the street with the neighbour kids and were supposed to stay in view of the house but, you know. Sometimes when we thought our parents were in the backyard and I was feeling particularly daring, we would ride around the whole block. So adventurous! Mum and Dad never liked that.
There was a house just past the Pelsart Ave sign that was not lived in. The path to school inevitably went that way and people talked about that house. There were holes in the windows from rocks (can’t remember if I threw any; I might have dared myself a couple of times on the insistence of other kids but I knew it was wrong) and some holes in the walls. We went in there once or twice, too. I think I was petrified that other kids (or teenagers) would be in there and dare us to do things. There was graffitti and probably poo in the toilet. There were bits of rubble and I can’t remember about condoms or clothes. Positive the parents would have whipped us if they knew – maybe they did, I can’t remember – and my sister would have been either shitting her pants because she was 2 years younger than me, or instigating the whole bloody thing because she was daring when you least expected it.
There was a football oval down the road and around the corner from the Pelsart Ave sign, too, which, incidentally, Husband used to play on as a kid. When it rained for days, the oval occasionally flooded and sometimes I went there with a friend from school and we hunted for frogs and tadpoles. She warned me about Electric Eels.
I was skeptical because the water, you know, would conduct their electricity, but she was older. My folks have told me about the stink of dead tadpoles at the front door where they made me leave the large containers of stormwater we’d bring back, and the occasional frog hopping around the steps.
Flashforward to today: I tell the boys to leave outside animals alone, to only look and not touch too much because I don’t want other living things in the house and because I don’t want them to become blasé about fawns and be trodden or gored to death by deer or fucking stags. We live on a hill with no sidewalks and fast drivers so they don’t ride bikes on the road but they do do BMX riding which is fucking rad. They go “hiking” in the backyard and today they found bones down by the old treehouse.
I think they’re doing just fine.