It becomes increasing clear to me how important families are to our growth as functioning human beings. We spend our childhood with other children who we both need, love and at the same time resent. Need in the fact that we have someone our own generation that understands our mindsets. Resentment because we are competing for the attention of our parents and with our unsophisticated minds see that there may be an imbalance.
Now as a parent I know this not to be true but as a child or teen I perceived something different. As with many families my siblings and I came from a dual income household. This did two things it made us become dependent on each other more than a stay at home parent child would. It forced us to make better, harder, and sometimes not so smart decisions. I am not trying to blame my childhood mistakes on my parents, in fact I am grateful for the opportunity to make these decisions as I think it made me more prepared to be a parent myself. Kari and I are blessed to have the ability to have her stay at home with the kids. That does not mean that I believe that we are doing a better job that my parents, but my children get to have a different childhood than I did. My parents did a superb job. I think that because they both worked it made the time that we spent as a family, although more condensed, more memorable. I would not have wanted to have our situation any other way.
One of the greatest parts about my childhood was my siblings. As the only boy and oldest, I was often put in the position of the mediator (or sometimes tormentor 😀 ) between my younger siblings. Ellie and I were given responsibilities to assist our parents such as house work, babysitting, cooking ect.. that built our work ethic and sense of worth. I am amazed at my sisters strength she has the ability to withstand things that would crush me or others, and can in an instant show such tenderness and love to her children and nieces and nephews. She gets it family is the center of a healthy psyche.
I just wanted to take this time to tell her how much I love her and appreciate all that she does for me and my family, it is a shame that we cannot take the time everyday to show all of our friend and families how much we appreciate how they enrich our lives.
With her birthday here I was reminded of a couple of stories and adventures that we experienced as kids.
Tubes and Road-Rash
I being the nice older brother that I was decided that I was going to fix the flat front tire on Ellie’s bike. So gathering the tools I needed I flipped the bike upside down and attempted to loosen the nuts. Being 12 I admit that I did not have the patience that I may have needed to do anything major on a bike, but my intentions were good. If you need any more evidence of that you could look at every bike that I owned at that age and you would find that the wheel nuts were all rounded from ill fitting crescent wrenches. This time I was able to get the nut off but was unable to tighten in completely after I made the repair. So flipping the bike over to wheels down I went in search of the big guns, the Vise-Grips.
Again, I was twelve and what probably should have been a 5 min search turned out to be a round of Mike Tyson Punch-out, a Marine Commando Mission, or something of the like. Needless to say when I returned the bike was gone. Ellie had gone for a ride. Some time later she was back at the house with half of her face shredded from a ride across the asphalt. She had been riding down the street when she attempted a wheelie. The bike lifted into the air on its back wheel, but unfortunately the front wheel kept its purchase on the road and kept on rolling. If it had been the day of smartphones with cameras and that had been caught Ellie would have most certainly been the $100,000 winner. It was not so we will have to use our imagination on what happened next. I imagine that it looked something like this:
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She healed up just fine. A testament to the resilience of children.
Trapped in a Hide-a-bed
I still have nightmares about this story. In my older years I have developed a bit of claustrophobia and I think that what we used to do here may be the cause.
My parents had purchased a sectional couch with a Hide a bed and we thought that it was the greatest thing in the world. We would open it set up the bed. Use it when friends came over, build forts, you know normal kid things. Well as you all know the longer that a kid has something the more creative they become in ways to use it. It became a diving platform, a see-saw, a ramp (Don’t Ask), Trampoline, well when you removed the mattress there was an actual trampoline with springs and the whole deal.
The most crazy one was the waffle maker. Now this one might be a little harder to explain for those of you that have never seen a hide-a-bed. This one was broken into thirds. Two of those sections folded onto each other and then you would lift and slide the bed into the seat area of the couch, and then you would have to push one last time to secure the base. Well we used to pretend that the folding thirds was the waffle maker. We would time how long each of us would dare to be folded up into the waffle maker. Now it may not seem like much, but if one of use was ticked at the other it could have made for a long stay immobilized.
Now I am not sure how this came about or who’s idea it was, be some how we got the idea to stick someone in the couch and fully retract the bed. I don’t remember how we picked the person to be in the couch, but I think that it finally came down to me being stronger and would be the only one to be able to get her out. Or…..so we thought. Once Ellie got fully in the couch she was a champ. She even told me to put the cushions on and sit on it. After a couple of minutes she was ready to come out. So I grabbed hold of the handle on the front and pulled…………it would not budge. I realized that I was not strong enough to lift it. I started to panic, after a quick prayer and a jolt of pure adrenaline I yanked as hard as I could and was able to slowly get the bed out. Ellie by this time was a little panicked and I think I learned a few swear-word combinations from her that day.
I wish I could tell you that it was the last time that we attempted this but I cannot. There was a story back in 2010 about a couple of girls that were rushed to the hospital in critical condition after they had done the same thing. So I know for a fact that both of us are lucky to be alive.
So, sister why am I bringing all these near death experiences out in the open for your birthday. Well it is very simple, after 37 years you are still alive, even after having a big brother like me that either facilitated or went along with many crazy stunts. 😀