Survivor

After a girl celebrates a birthday or three or fifty, she spends a little time in reflection mode.  Sometimes, I wonder how I survived—at least my first 10-12 years.

That my mother held out until April 2nd to bring me into the world was a good omen.  She saved me from becoming the brunt of April Fool’s jokes for the rest of my life.

I left the hospital in Mom’s arms and I’m certain I remained in her arms or someone else’s anytime I rode in a car during my first six months.  After that, I bounced between the front and back seats with my older brother.

When our family upsized to a station wagon, we stopped calling, “Shotgun” and fought over the “way back.”  But riding in the back of a family friend’s pick-up truck surpassed any and all seat positions in any and all vehicles.

Yes, I am a child survivor of the no car seat, no seatbelt, and “Sure, you can ride in the back of the truck—have fun” generation.

By the time I climbed into the bed of a pick-up truck, I’d already overcome an infancy of sleeping on my stomach in a crib lined with bumper pads.  Somehow I had also managed crawling and toddling around uncovered electric outlets without making any shocking connections.

There’s also good chance my parents and relatives handed me medicine bottles to shake in the absence of a baby rattle.  Childproof lids?

Ha, ha.  Ha, ha, ha.

My brothers and I biked throughout our neighborhood and beyond without helmets or parents.  We had parents; helmets were not available.

We even rode triple without helmets or parents.  One kid perched on the handlebars, the bike’s owner peddled and steered, and the third passenger balanced on the seat. 

I can describe this scene only because I lived to tell about it.  I lived to tell about it after consuming a primary diet of hamburgers, french fries, pasta, meatballs and peanut butter sandwiches on white bread.

Obesity problems?  Health issues related to diet?  Not at all.  Probably because we preferred playing outside over sitting in front of the TV.

Actually, staying inside in front of the TV was never an option.

Mom handed us lunch money, kissed us goodbye, and off to school we walked. In summer, our parents put us out the door and didn’t give us another thought. 

We were not required to check in with cell phones we did not own.  Nor did we lie about our whereabouts using cell phones we did not have.

“Start home when the first streetlamp lights,” our parents said. 

Seldom did they know if we were at friends’ houses, on the school playground or exploring the mountains across the street.  They had no idea when another kid bullied us or if we argued with a friend.

It never occurred to us to tell them.

It would be easy to presume our parents allowed us to run wild—that they had no control over my brothers and me. 

Wrong.

Church on Sunday was not negotiable.  Homework was completed—without supervision—directly upon returning home from school.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m all for car seats and bike helmets and anti-bullying campaigns.  Progress in health and safety is a good thing.

But sleeping belly-down, no car seats, and walking to school unattended were not my greatest hurdles when it came to survival. 

Getting in trouble at school—that was the biggest threat to the lives of my brothers and me.  If we got in trouble at school, it spelled out big—huge—trouble at home.

Suffice it to say, I recently celebrated another birthday.  I’m here to tell the story.  I’m a survivor.

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