Sunday, March 21, 2010

Memories can be helpful

As a "second time around" dad, I try to use my memories of being a kid and my memories of parenting my first set as parenting tools. I remember being clumsy and quiet as a kid, so it helps me to be patient with the kids (most of the time). I remember getting into trouble for various things, and I try to remember what it was I thought I was doing or the reasons behind them. That helps (most of the time.).

One vivid memory I have helps me to understand how children can be playing so hard, that they completely miss what's going on around darkness falling upon them. When I was about 7 years old, we lived in Landover MD. My dad was active duty Army during the Vietnam conflict and at the time he was in-patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He had cancer in the femur of one of his legs. I don't recall which leg (that's a good thing, I think) He and his legs survived the ordeal and they are all still here to tell the story; though at 71, I'm sure his legs argue with him at times on the points of survival.

My dad, like many other dads had a few rules we were diligently taught to obey. The following were some of the key rules: 1) be in the house by the time the street lights come on. 2.) Tell them (our parents) where we were going before we left. & 3.) If we left the first place, we were to come back and notify said parents about the change in location.

Summer time was a time that these three rules would come into play daily. On one such day, my brother and I decided to go catch tadpoles and frogs. My brother is only one year older than I am. He and I were joining a bunch of friends on "a frog hunt." The usual place to go was in front of this large rain pipe thingy that water from the various street drains lead into and deposited out and developed a stream (river during heavy rains). The pipe was large enough for a small child to walk in it standing up. I don't know how I knew that, because no one was allowed to go into it, and besides it had a large grate in front of it that was designed to keep kids out of it. Yeah right! Anyway, we (a group of about 6-8 boys) were catching frogs and tadpoles, but there weren't enough to go around. So we decided to go elsewhere. Now, we did follow rule number 2, but for the life of me, I don't know why we forgot rule number 3.

We decided that a great place to go for frogs would be in the water hazards at the nearby golf course. (Now that I think about it, that probably was a very stupid idea all by itself...imagine 1967, and a bunch of "Negro" boys sneaking out on the country club golf course to catch frogs). So, we were having a great time, playing in the water, catching frogs, getting each other wet and muddy, etc. At some point one of us happens to look up at the sky. "Uh, oh!" It was pitch black dark. None of us had even noticed it because we were having so much fun, and our eyes were becoming slowly adjusted to the dark, I guess. Well, there went rule number 1. So if your kid comes home late, and gives something of this type of excuse think about it first.

Anyway, we started back home with all of us trying to get a good lie straight between us. I don't even remember what it was. It didn't matter anyway... As we were getting close to home we had to pass that place we went to originally. You know, the place with the kid sized pipe that we're not supposed to go in, but kids do anyway. As we approached the place we see LOTS of flashing red lights. Yup! Fire fighters, search and rescue, ambulance, police and a street full of parents, family and lookers on! The men were in the pipe looking for us lost kids! Whatever lie we were going to try had just lost its strength by 100%. We all meandered through the crowd looking for our respective parents. I found my dad and quietly tugged on his pant leg. My dad is an imposing man of 6'4", with keen features, a river deep voice, and a steely stare. He looked down at me and my brother and silently pointed in the direction of our house. Needless to say, even though we tried to get a good cry going before we got home, it didn't stop him from whipping us both at the same time!

Ah, fond memories! Don't you love 'em? They make us who were are, and hopefully make us better parents. (most of the time).

Care to share one of your growth memories?

1 comment:

Aus said...

Yeah - OK - I pulled a couple 'stunts' as a kid too - but never one that ended up brining out a SAR team! ;) Nice work....I guess....but ya know that your parents cared! And Joey - congrats guy - go and do!

hugs - aus and co.