Every once in a while, I’ll have a random flashback to my childhood and go, “What the hell were we THINKING?!” Especially now, when watching Jack play I like to reminisce of what pretend-time was for me. I even remember my best friend Sarah and I discussing as children when we didn’t have fun pretending anymore. It was almost as depressing as finding out “you know who” is really your parents. We just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t the same. I wonder if other kids reached an age where they recognized that their imaginations couldn’t entertain them as well as they used to. Looking back, some of the things we did for fun was either physically dangerous or psychologically messed up. It makes me wonder if our parents ever had any idea what the hell we were up to. Here’s what I mean:
Dish Soap Trampoline Condiment Trashbag Wearing Night Fights- I am tempted to just leave this description here and move on. What? Didn’t every child mix a disgusting amount of assorted condiments and eggs into two separate cups and then dress themselves in trash bags at one o’clock in the morning? And then, didn’t they go outside and throw this home made vomit at each other while jumping on a wet soapy trampoline? The best part about this insanely dangerous and nasty idea is that I don’t think Sarah’s parents ever had a clue. The soap and water cleaned the trampoline and the trash bags protected our clothing. I do wonder if Mrs. Peggy ever noticed that she always ran out of ketchup on Sunday mornings.
Kimono Versus Cape- This conversation happened almost every time Sarah and I had a sleep over. You remember how wherever you go, there is always a special toy that every one wants? In this case, it was an outfit. When we played dress up at Sarah’s, she had a kimono. I’m almost positive her parents brought it to her from Japan, although, that may have been a lie Sarah told me because-well-you know-it sounds cool and she was five. So, at her house, she had this gorgeous kimono and at my house, the popular attire was my Miss America cape that my mother had made me for Halloween. Whenever we went to Sarah’s, she would convince me that because it’s her house, she should be the one to wear the kimono, but at my house, she should wear the cape because she was my guest and good little hostesses let their guests wear their Miss America cape. If I heard my poor stupid little girl go along with this notion, I would have a conversation with her explaining what “manipulation” means. I never got to wear the cape or the kimono. Ever.
The Mattress Catapult-This wasn’t just us. This dumb ass idea was the product of Sarah’s older brother. It’s EXACTLY what it sounds like. He would lie on a mattress on the floor and pull it back over his head while another child would get on top and he would push as hard as he could, catapulting the other kid into a wall. It was hilarious. I enjoyed it every time. The rush of flying through the air was amazing until one day, when I wasn’t there, Sarah broke her arm. At that point, I guess Sarah’s parents noticed because we weren’t allowed to play that game anymore. If only she hadn’t broken her arm. She could really be selfish like that when we were younger.
Evil Zoo Keeper- This was one of the weirdest recurring “pretend-that”s we ever had. If I heard my child playing this weird ass game, I would definitely intervene. So, we took turns. We built a “zoo” with cushions. One of us played the abused animal who the zoo keeper beat and refused to feed and the other played the evil zoo keeper. Like, WTH?! We were never actually animals you would find at the zoo. We were always puppies or kittens. We loved animals. I have no idea who came up with this totally creepy game, but it happened, so-there you go.
Pee Wee Sticks- I have searched the entire internet looking for evidence of the existence of the incredible Pee Wee Stick and can’t find it anywhere. At some point, we think kindergarten, a character who was supposed to educate us on something had a magical pee wee stick. Sarah and I would spend an entire day searching my yard for pee wee sticks. “To find a good pee wee stick, it needs to be this long and this wide.” and “I know exactly how to spot a good pee wee stick” were sentences used regularly in our homes. Did our parents notice? Did they secretly laugh when Sarah and I were discussing pee wee sticks for hours on end? No. They didn’t. Because in our day, we left the house and our parents never knew what the hell was going on.
Snake-One time, as Sarah and I were playing in the abandoned barn that we weren’t allowed to play in, I spotted a snake. It was within a few feet of Sarah. I remember telling her to walk slowly towards me and not look behind her, and she did. She was just like, “aight”. Well, it was a snake. The situation isn’t that crazy. In the middle Georgia summer, snakes are everywhere, but it is so weird to me that we didn’t go home and tell our parents. I guess we didn’t want to get in trouble for being at the barn? I don’t know. It just seems like something we would have shared. “Oh, B-T-Dub, Sarah almost died today. Pass the potatoes, please.”
Because my childhood was so amazing, I am going to have to remind myself as Jack gets older that kids need to be left alone sometimes. They might do some crazy and possibly dangerous things, but that’s how they learn and grow. Our parents definitely gave us room to get hurt whether they realized that’s what they were doing or not. Our imaginations and stupid decisions made us who we are today. Of all the lessons from our childhood adventures, two are most important: Sarah learned to never catapult herself towards a wall and I learned that if I wanted to wear a kimono, I’d better buy my own.