Being a fireman’s kid can put a real damper on many things that most kids get to experience. Anything that had to do with fire was classified as a taboo for my brother and me. We could watch someone else strike a match, start the coals going for a barbecue, or watch fireworks from a more than adequate distance. However, to actually get involved in the process of one of these activities was strictly forbidden.
When I was three years old, I got a spanking for getting involved in a process that included fire. My friend, Cathy, and I were in the kitchen while our moms were in the adjacent living room enjoying coffee and chatting. Cathy and I got curious about the stove. It was so much larger than the ones we got for Christmas that were used in playing house. We managed to move one of the kitchen chairs over to the stove without our moms noticing. Seeing that we were so little, both of us could easily stand on the same chair without any fear of pushing the other one off. Therefore, a second chair wasn’t required. Cathy was just about ready to turn one of the knobs on the front when my dad came walking in. He grabbed both of us off the chair and spanked us, cupping his hand so the noise would scare us. To say the least, I didn’t go near that stove again until I was nine years old and my mom was standing right there to supervise.
Sure, my world as a child was safe — in my opinion, too safe. It took all of my powers of creativity to find ways around all the safety in my domain.
I loved playing outside. I wasn’t one of those frilly girls with her dolls lying about her. I wanted to pretend that I was camping and stalking wild bears with a bow and arrow. Yes, I was a tomboy through and through.
Cathy and her family moved from our neighborhood when I was six years old. I was miserable without her until Linda moved in a few months later. Although she loved playing with her Barbie doll, she was usually game for playing outside and getting a little dirty.
One of our favorite places to play was behind the tall junipers that stood at the front corner of her house. We knew that the little berries from the junipers were poisonous, but we would still strip them from the branches and pretend they were are food. Linda being Linda wanted to build a fire back there. After all, it was autumn and it was nippy outside. What better way to stay warm without going in? However, it wasn’t going to happen while I was there. I still remembered the spanking I got three years before then. She tried her best to con me into it but she didn’t have any luck.
It was when I was leaving to go home so that I wouldn’t be there when the fire started that I noticed the leaves of the small sycamore tree that hugged the side of Linda’s house. Sycamore trees aren’t native to where I lived in Colorado. This made this little tree a real find as far as I was concerned. Most trees in Colorado go from green, to yellow, to brown, and then fall off the tree sometime in September or October. However, the leaves of the sycamore tree didn’t follow the rules of Colorado and were in hues of orange and red as well as the green, yellow and brown. Moreover, you could find all four colors on one leave sometimes.
I picked some of the leaves, making sure to leave some for another day, and trotted back behind the junipers where Linda was on her hunches. She was thrilled with my discovery. We make our little fire of sycamore leaves and had a wonderful afternoon playing our game of being campers.
Do kids use this type of creativity these days? I haven’t seen it, but then, I haven’t been behind a juniper in a while.