Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Growing up in the Panhandle and Parenting

A huge part of growing up, for a boy at least, is where he gets his first bicycle and BB Gun. Oh wait, bicycles and BB Guns are no longer PC. A young boy might hurt himself on the bike and heaven forbid he might learn about weapons from his father. Better to learn from some moron down the street who steals his Dad's pistol for 'fun'. Sorry. I'll save that rant for another time.

This all has to do with these epiphanies I get on how lucky I was to grow up in the '50s and '60s. Even though I had poor, if any guidance from my father, I had a great childhood. We'll leave my father's story for another time as well. Suffice to say he worked too much and loved too little.

Looking back, growing up in the tiny Texas Panhandle town of Levelland was awesome. We had no extra money, lived in an old two story farm house outside of town and we played outside. All day. All summer long.

Mom would feed us oatmeal, made in a pressure cooker pot, that had the consistency of paste and tasted like cardboard. The saving grace was all the butter, sugar and milk you could snag. To this day I cannot eat oatmeal without a dab of milk, a pat of butter and spoon full of sugar. But. That meal filled our pudgy bellies for hours, until it was time for lunch.

Then Mom would say, "Get outside and play. Stay out of trouble and stay away from the barn."

So we promptly headed for the old barn and spent the morning playing Cowboys and Indians, tag, making paper airplanes, throwing clods at each other, setting up the bag of little green plastic soldiers in clod fortresses and then shooting them with the BB gun.

Brett, a boy my age who lived in the fancy house next door, would come over and we would throw around a Frisbee until our arms fell off. Then we would drag out the hose and lawn sprinkler and spend hours running back and forth, slipping and skinning knees, elbows and yes losing a tooth or two.

I know things are different, some things need to be different. You should know what your kids are doing and with whom. Mom's should talk to each other about their kids and keep an eye on them. Dads should take their sons and daughters fishing and teach them to ride a bike. Mom and Dad should share the responsibility of homework.

Do you?

You are NOT so busy that you can't spend time enjoying life with your children. You will have the blink of an eye to spend teaching your children the simple joys of life. The blink of an eye.

I grew up 'poor' but most of my friends did too. But I didn't feel poor. I remember being happy most of the time. I remember the dust and the heat and the endless summers.

Will your children remember the fun of youth? It's up to you. Come on. There is nothing better than the look on your child's face when you've showed him how to make his first paper airplane or they take their first solo ride on the bike.

Be a parent. Be a part of that amazing journey; childhood.

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