Category Archives: Stories

Ten Fun Summer Things Mom Did When She Was a Kid. Things You Will Not Do.

My follow-up to yesterday’s post is the list, “Ten Fun Summer Things Mom Did When She Was a Kid.”

My daughter will laugh at the list, and then I’ll insist there be no repeat performances. Sure, I grew up in fresh air. So what? I’ll probably die from skin cancer or tick disease or revenge from the neighbors I mud-balled. There’s probably a sliver festering in my body soon to be infected with flesh-eating bacteria.

I don’t want that for my daughter.  Are video games really that bad? What’s wrong with a little TV? The Internet is educational.

I had a different childhood. Mom stayed at home with the kids. So do I, but I’ve been initiated into the Helicopter Parents Club. My mother was unaware of the constant threat of kidnappers and popsicle-induced ADHD. She knew one good sunburn would turn to a protective tan. And what’s a wood tick or two or three? Flush ’em down the toilet! See if they crawl back up.

As granny would weeze, “Times ain’t the same.”

Regardless, here’s the list. Writing it was magical, and now I want to write a book about neighborhood kids in the 1970s. I’m sure that’s never been done, right?

Indoor gyms? For shame!

Indoor parks? For shame!

So I offer a glimpse into the summers of Shelley. “Ten Fun Summer Things Mom Did When She Was a Kid.”

  1. Capture daddy long leg spiders. Pull off the legs and watch their heads roll around the sidewalk. Whoever collects the most heads wins. Save the heads in a jar.
  2. Make mud balls. Throw them at targets for points. Do not select a neighbor’s house for a target. Because he will yell at you, you will run into your house, he will ring the bell and tattletale to your mom, and your mom will know you are hiding under the bed.
  3. Hose down a neighborhood hill. Use mom’s cookie sheets for an outdoor waterslide. When finished, bang out dents with a hammer. Good as new!
  4. Get bucket of water and bunches of toilet paper rolls. Soak wads of toilet paper. Throw them at dad’s car. See how many will stick.
  5. Guilt mom into watching talent show in which you and your best friend act and sing the Grease soundtrack – all 24 songs.
  6. Now that's summer. Nice cartwheel, kiddo.

    Now that’s summer. Nice cartwheel, kiddo.

    Go to home of stylish grandmother with a dozen closets. Take out dresses, shoes, wigs, make up, perfume, jewelry, handbags. Sort and divide. Have a 1970s fashion show. Insist on being Farrah Fawcett.

  7. Buy packs of candy cigarettes. Wear jeans, white t-shirt and and red-and-blue hankie things on head. Pretend bikes are motorcycles. Pretend bikes aren’t pink with sparkling purple ribbons. Smoke and ride the lonely highway through sunbaked deserts, baby, smoke and ride.
  8. Put batteries in fancy new tape recorders. Record friends burping and farting. Rewind, replay.
  9. Stake out campsite in nearby woods, something far from the law. Drag blankets/sheets, beans and can opener, cowboy hats, dad’s tools (for breaking branches). Hang sheets high in trees. Make camp. Plan stagecoach robbery. Open beans and pretend to eat because beans are gross.
  10. Get dad’s ties. Wrap around jump rope. Secure with string and tape. Jump, skip, attempt double dutch. Watch the pretty colors as the rope swings.

Now I’m all nostalgic. I’m going to text the friend with the purple bike and see if she’ll come over and download Grease. If she’s busy, we can sing “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee” via Skype. Just like the good old days.


Stories our houses tell

Our old house? Nope - couldn't find a picture. But it was two blocks from this one!

Our old house? Nope – couldn’t find a picture. But it was two blocks from this one!

I’ve lived in a lot of houses and apartments as an adult. My sister counts seven moves in one three-year period. That’s when she resigned as moving helper.

Last month, I moved into a new house, a house we built, a house without stories. And that’s the strange part. We are living with a very clean and blank canvas.

One of my homes was 100 plus years old. No horror stories, but it pulsated with energy.

I’d sit next to the fireplace, near the beautiful French doors we’d found hidden in the basement. And I’d wonder. How many arguments happened in this room? Did the housewife ever dream of running off to the city? Did they cry in front of the fireplace when friends died? Did they have parties? Did they almost lose the house during the Depression? Did they watch us from the spirit world, making sure we loved their home?

Sometimes I felt mood shifts throughout the day. I sensed their company by the fireplace, their solace during our struggles. The couple’s energy and presence never left.

So now we have the new canvas, without stories or wonder.

Yesterday the inspector told us the vinyl siding on the house’s east side has slight waves in it. This, he said, is to be expected because of Minnesota weather.

The tidbit made me feel light. We had a flaw. We had a teeny-weeny story – with more to come.