play

When my girls were little, Bob and I wanted to start bowling. We started looking for a babysitter. I volunteered at the girls’ grade school doing throat cultures, and had seen a girl there who I knew to be the daughter of a man Bob worked with, and they just happened to live out in the country, just about a mile from our house, so it seemed ideal.

Molly was a little young, just in 6th grade, but she had 2 little sisters, Kelly and Jenny, so she was somewhat experienced, and her family lived close by, so if anything went wrong, help would come quickly. The decision was made. We asked her, and she agreed. She would babysit every Monday night, and assorted other days, when we needed her.

My first instincts about Molly were correct. She had some experience…lots of experience. She must have been a great help to her mom and dad, with her little sisters, because she knew what little girls would want to do. She played outside with them when the weather was nice, and inside when it wasn’t. At Christmastime, she would bring paper, glue, and glitter; and the kids would make us pictures to hang up for the holidays. And the best news, she never left us a mess. She even washed the dishes. The house was spotless when we came home. I was stunned, to say the very least! Where do you find a babysitter like that? Almost nowhere!! We were so completely blessed by Molly!!

But, more important than the blessing Molly was to Bob and me, was the blessing she was to our girls. They dearly loved Molly, and couldn’t wait to have her come to babysit the next time. There were never tears when we left, there were smiling waves goodbye. We left our house, knowing that it and more importantly, our children were in great hands.

As the years went by, and our girls no longer needed a babysitter, Molly would go on to college and marriage. She moved to Iowa, and has children of her own. While I haven’t seen her in many years now, I am in touch with her family and hopefully her soon as well, on Facebook. While she has a life of her own now, I hope she knows that we will always have a soft spot in our hearts for the best babysitter we ever had!

When our children are little, they are so easy to please. A ball and a wading pool made for hours of fun, and at that time, usually cost under $10.00, so they were affordable on any budget. The girls loved playing in the pool on a hot summer day, and I could sit in my chase lounge and read a book. Those were wonderful, lazy summer days.

Of course, in those days, any video games that were available were expensive and primitive. We got one when they were a little older, but unlike the kids today who seem to be born with technology in their hands, the girls used their imaginations. I’m not saying that technology is a bad thing, since I’m a big techy too, just that it wasn’t as easy to come by back then.

My girls, like kids today as well, played in boxes, because they could imagine it was a fort or some such thing. They had Cabbage Patch dolls, and played house. They and their friends played tea party and dress up. They loved playing in a sand box, making little cities or building sand castles.

The technology we have today is amazing. You can look up on the internet whatever you can imagine in your mind. The games kids play become more and more graphic. Murder and crime don’t phase our kids anymore, because they have seen it all on a game. Sometimes we can’t even relate to a tragic event, because it looks so much like the fantacy world we have watched on television. I sometimes wonder if the criminals and terrorists get some of their ideas directly from television and video games. I’m not saying that technology is bad, just that it takes away a precious commodity from our kids sometimes…imagination.

Friends often go in and out of our lives, as our interests change, especially when we are young, but once in a great while, something very rare and very special occurs. That very first friend becomes a forever friend. Such was the case between my daughter, Amy and her friend, Carina. The girls met on the first day of kindergarten, and from that day to this, there has never been a time when they weren’t friends. Carina became so much a part of our lives, and Amy a part of Carina’s family’s, that we both said that they were adopted daughters.

When Amy came home from school that first day, I asked her how she liked school, and all she talked about was her friend Carina. Little did I know that this…Carina, was about to endear herself to our family for life. Rarely did a weekend go by without those girls spending the night one place or the other. They both just became a fixture in the home of the other, and none of us seemed to think it was the least bit odd.

As the years went by, their interests changed, but always seemed to include the other in some way. They both loved gymnastics and later they were both in the Kelly Walsh Dancers. Carina’s career as a flight attendant would take her all around the world, while Amy’s life would keep her right here in Casper, Wyoming, and into her marriage, but no matter how far apart they were, they remained friends. After 9-11, Carina’s life would change again, and bring her back to Casper, and later into her marriage. And now, they are closer than ever.

Once in a while, a rare friendship occurs, and that is what happened between two little girls named Amy and Carina, and our lives would never be the same…and that is just fine with me.

Kids have such a fascination with boxes. They would almost rather play with the box than it’s contents…provided, of course, that the box is big enough to hold the kid. I’m sure I was the same way, but I don’t recall just what the fascination was. Maybe it was like a secret hiding place, but it never seems to stay a secret, and the kid doesn’t seem to want to stay hidden. They want to be noticed.

It could be that it just strikes them as goofy, which would make sense, because while I don’t know about your kids, my girls loved being goofy and giggly. Being inside a box was always something that they enjoyed, so maybe I should have skipped the gift, and just found a box. And it didn’t even have to be a gift…in fact most often wasn’t, that provided the perfect box. Usually it was some appliance or some other such thing, and just as soon as the item was unpacked, the question started…”Can we have the box?” And they would be off and running on their adventure.

I kind of think the main reason kids like boxes is that they are cozy, and a sort of a place of their own. Like a play house, they climb in and just sit there, because there usually isn’t much room to move. So they look at each other and laugh, or look at you to see if you can understand their secret delight. And of course, if you would just take a picture, they would be thrilled, because moments like these are meant to be saved on film.

And just in case a box was unavailable, it really wasn’t a problem, there are always ways around that problem. Just turn a kid loose with a clothes basket, and you were good. This isn’t something that is unique to any generation either, as any parent or grandparent would know. Every kid just loves it!

 

When my girls were little, we decided they should have a pet. Bob and I liked cats, and instead of one, we ended up with two white cats. A male and a female. Little did we know what that would start. By the time we decided we didn’t want more cats, we had probably had a couple of dozen. They were farm cats, since we lived out in the country, but they were pets nevertheless.

Those first two cats were named Pest and Tumbleweed. Corrie and Amy had such a great time with them. We all did really. Their antics were a source of laughter for all of us. They would sneak up on each other, pounce, and then jump straight up in the air.

Amy was just a little teeny girl, but she loved the cats so much, and she wanted to carry them around. So she would pick both of them up around the middle at the same time. Now this worked pretty well for Pest, our female, but Tumbleweed was bigger than Pest, and heavier. The next time I looked, She was carrying Tumbleweed by the neck, because he had slid down. He was such a patient cat. He just looked at her as if to say, “Please don’t choke me little girl.” But he never scratched her or bit her. He loved the attention, so he put up with the little inconveniences. And no matter how many times I tried to rescue poor Tumbleweed…the next time I looked, he was in the same precarious position again, only moments later.

Tumbleweed always had to be in the middle of things. He liked to see what Bob was doing. Whenever Bob was working on a car, Tumbleweed had to be involved. If Bob was working on top of the car engine, Tumbleweed would perch on the air cleaner, as if he were the supervisor. And if Bob was under the car…well, Tumbleweed had to be right beside him, head to head, both looking at the “problem” to see what the solution would be. Tumbleweed was a pretty good mechanic.

I just love the antics of cats…always have. They have such great personalities. And if you are having a bad day, you can take a moment to watch two cats at play, knowing that it is a sure way to put a smile on your face.

When I was a kid, the summertime would bring hours of playing outdoors. All the neighborhood kids would be involved. We didn’t watch a lot of television, and video games didn’t exist. We used our imaginations, coming up with crazy games like “ditch it” in which we would all play in the yard, until a car came up the street. The first person to see it would yell “ditch it” and everyone would drop on the grass. This game was always played after dark, so the cars couldn’t “see” us when we dropped to the ground. The idea was that the cars were obviously the “bad guys” and we were the “good guys”. Of course, we had no idea what the “bad guys” had done, because we had never really thought the game through to figure that out.

We would play “hide and seek” for hours on end. When you live in a neighborhood fille with kids, there were always enough kids to make the game interesting. An unusual thing in our neighborhood, was an unusual amount of families with all girls. There must have been 4 or 5 families with all girls, and at least 3 more with mostly girls, so we had plenty of people to play house, jacks, jump rope, and other girl games. The kids simply dominated the block all summer.

Because we lived in a different time, you could play outside well after dark, and your parents didn’t have to give it a second thought. We were usually allowed to play outside until 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm. There just wasn’t anything to worry about. When I think back on that time, I feel sad, in a way, because our children today can’t safely play outside late at night, because you just don’t know who is out there.

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