I am often amazed at the reaction I get when I’m talking to someone and tell them I had a “perfect childhood.” They poke and prod and tell me “no way, there had to be a time when it wasn’t so perfect.” Well, I’m sorry, but it was perfect.
I’ll start off by giving my parents all the credit. I could not have asked for a better mom and dad. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and lived in typical neighborhoods on army bases all over the world. I had three sisters, a dog, and a cat.
My father had two wives, one was my mother and the other was the army; He loved them both. My dad is the one who taught me right from wrong and that there are no shades of gray. It’s as simple as that. But being a red-blooded American boy, I would sometimes dabble around in that ole’ “wrong category.” Yep, I knew better than to take my slingshot and shoot a rock through the neighbor’s window, but at the time, it just seemed like fun. Well, sure enough, because of the magical powers I thought all dads had, I got caught. To this day I don’t know how, but, like I said, “dads are magical.”
When he caught me doing something wrong, he didn’t panic and schedule an appointment with a “shrink” or go around grief-stricken as if he was a failure as a father. Nope, he would ask me if I knew I had done wrong and give me a good old fashion spanking. I know some of you might not agree with this form of punishment and believe it’s cruel. No, my dad wasn’t cruel. I was the one that did something wrong and I got caught and punished, simple as that. It was a consequence of doing something wrong, so common sense told me that I didn’t need to repeat it.
Through my eyes, my dad was a perfect father. He would take me fishing, shoot hoops, and cheer at my ball games. It would take a lifetime to retell all the good memories I have. Most of all, what my dad did best… he loved me.
My mom, well, I’ll use that word again… “Perfect.” She was the All- American mom. You know the kind… the cooker of good suppers, the birthday cake fixer, kisser of skinned up knees, and the Deputy Sheriff when my sisters and I would argue over who got to lick the batter off of the beaters of the cake mixer. Yeah, she was the one who would let me get away with the little things when Dad, The High Sheriff, was at work. Things like staying home from school when she knew I was playing sick or acting like she didn’t hear me say a bad word when I bumped my head. Mom was also a miracle worker. All she had to do was keep a good stock of band-aids on hand and a never-ending supply of kisses and I had no worries. But most of all, just like Dad, she loved me unconditionally.
Life was good being the only boy. My parents couldn’t deny I was their favorite son, although they loved us all equally. Back then, parents didn’t coddle and baby kids the way they do now. They let kids be kids and didn’t expect us to understand the theory of relativity in the second grade. As for my parents, if I colored outside the lines in my coloring book, no big deal, life went on because I wasn’t expected to be perfect.
My bicycle was the mode of transportation for me. Dad had his job and Mom had a house to keep up, so if I had ball practice or wanted to go to a friend’s house, my bike was the vehicle of choice. I may have peddled three miles to the ball field without a helmet, actually broke a sweat, and lived through it. We didn’t have X-box or Nintendo back then. Marbles and baseball were the top choices of entertainment for me and my buddies. If we got tired of that, we strapped on the ole’ six-shooters, loaded them up with caps, and played Cowboys and Indians. On weekends, I would leave home in the mornings and play all day. As long as I was home when supper was ready, everything was fine. I grew up owning a BB gun, playing cops and robbers, had sword fights with sticks, and didn’t get a trophy for second place. My sisters and I rode in the back of Grandpa’s truck, swam in muddy cattle ponds, and jumped off the roof of the house. Sure we had bumps and bruises, but we turned out just fine.
We didn’t have several televisions scattered throughout the house. We all sat in the living room at night together as a family and watched one of three channels. If I didn’t like what was playing on T.V., I went to my room and played with my toys. My parents didn’t entertain us, nor did we expect them to. Visions of camping, vacations, playing, swimming, going to the drive-in as a happy family is etched in my memory. The words “worry” and “stress” weren’t in my vocabulary. I honestly can’t even think of a sad time as a child.
For all you young parents out there. Blessed are you if one day your kids tell you they had “a perfect childhood.”
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