Growing up the youngest of five, there were times that we just didn’t get along.
With 9 years between the oldest and youngest (me) and 3 channels to watch, one of them French, TV shows were often decided on by the (much bigger) boys. Favorites like “The Carol Burnett Show” or “The Wonderful World of Disney” garnered cooperation from all but “Hockey Night in Canada” meant front row seats for them and we girls off doing something else.
When Mom heard us bickering over something – the last cookie, the TV channel, etc, her response was always “Oh for Pete’s sakes, work it out.”
The thing is, we had each other and several thousand acres to run around on. We had animals and bikes, ponies and hay stacks. We made up games and found ways to stay entertained. And as much as they teased and tortured, my brothers’ schemes and ideas made for great adventures … and usually got us into trouble.
Like smoking in the hayloft.
Maybe not the best idea.
Or test driving the farm truck with three or four of us in the truck bed … headed down prairie trails at 50 mph and no brakes. It’s a wonder we survived to laugh about it now.
In my experience, being farm raised meant a firm foundation and consistent values sprinkled with a healthy dose of
neglect freedom. We were taught what to do and we did it. We had chores and responsibilities. We were trusted to figure things out as we went. And did we ever.
I’ll never forget one hot summer’s day when the boys convinced us to trek a half mile to the river for a swim. I was 4. Filling a couple of mason jars and swiping a few cookies, I’m sure Mom assumed we were headed to the tree house, a daily play site. The five of us took off, making our way through the brambles of the coulee, and down the raggedy hills to that swiftly flowing river. I was too young to know better but oh-so-happy to be included.
The sun warmed my back as we played and that river sand felt so silky smooth sliding through my fingers. I remember water above me and lights cutting through it. I didn’t know I was drowning but it was my brother’s arm who yanked me out, sputtering and scared.
A neighbor found us a few hours later and our parents, frantic and panicked, spanked every single one of us, both crying hysterically as they did. I can only imagine the terror we terrorists caused them.
So when I saw this Mom’s creative way to make her kids “work it out,” I just had to chuckle, think of Mom and Dad and the five of us rug rats, too. Because if we had been made to wear this as kids, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be around to talk about it.
How were conflicts resolved in your family? Did your parents have a saying you remember hearing?