Friday, May 14, 2010

more effing character than Disney

I was reminiscing to my kids about what life was like when I was their age and I got the feeling they think I’m full of crap. I could tell by the way they kept saying, “Mom, you’re so full of crap!”

My kids are wrong.

For instance, I remember rolling down the highway in the back of my Dad’s truck. Not in the back seat of my Dad’s truck, sillies. In the BACK of my Dad’s truck, with the leaking gas can and the toe-squishing spare tire and the sharp, stabby, dead pine needles.

As strict believers in Darwin’s law of the jungle, the bigger kids always laid claim to the coveted “spot against the cab”, where they were slightly protected from the 55 mile-per-hour, eye-piercing tornado of sawdust, twigs, and dead bugs. The younger and smaller you were, the closer to the tailgate you had to sit. That was the worst spot because your lips were all that stood between you and French kissing some bug guts.

My kids, raised in 3-strap industrial strength car seats until the 3rd grade, can’t fathom it. In fact, I suspect they wistfully think riding in the back of a truck was actually some fantastical form of tingly transportation.

Now, it’s worth noting that we were country kids, not townies. We had rattlesnakes while other kids had pesky sugar ants in their pantries. Our parents, out of a desire to escape the asphyxiating confines of convenience and electricity, moved us to the official Middle of Nowhere the summer of my 13th year. We were 1 mile up a dirt driveway and almost 25 miles from the nearest town of notable size. Their plan was for us to build a house and some character*, not necessarily in that order.

(*This was our parents’ battle cry: it builds character. The harder/messier the wound/work/lesson, the better the character. For example: My brother: “Dad, I cut half my thumb off splitting kindling.” Dad (slapping a well used back-pocket bandana over the wound): “Scars build character.” If that’s the case, my brother has more character in his thumb than both of my kids put together.)

My siblings and I did things every day that my kids think only exist in really lame old-timey movies. Manual labor *gasp*. Making do with less *ohthehumanity*. Entertaining ourselves without electricity *horror*.

The fact is, I can make these totally unembellished statements about my childhood and I swear on my precious angels’ pampered little lives that I am 100% not full of crap:

We had a cliff on our property. I played on it, 40 feet above jagged rocks that would’ve looked lovely with my blood all over them. There was a rattlesnake den in a cave underneath the cliff. I liked to throw rocks in there just to hear the rattles go off. (Sorry, Mom.)

We had a pet goat. He was so stupid, he hung himself one cold winter night. I poked his dead tongue with a stick before my dad told me to get away from there.

We once found a bear (see: a mammal with claws and an appetite) in the treehouse above our sleeping baby cousin’s playpen. It got shot.

A spray bottle of undiluted kerosene spritzed on kindling gets the morning fire going RIGHT NOW. (Sorry, Mom.)

The closest my kids can come to my childhood is that they once saw a bear in a book, and there’s a cliff on Gramma and Grampa’s property where they’re absolutely not allowed to go. They just haven’t built enough character for it.

1 comment:

rachel whetzel said...

I swear to God I just wanna come and spend all day with you doing nothing but talking. I love your stories!! I remember riding in the back of my dad's truck down I-5 once!! :)