Growing up with seven brothers and sisters was always interesting, sometimes enjoyable, and often aggravating. We had tiffs and spats but also managed to play very well together frequently. I did not appreciate it at the time, but I realize that we were blessed to grow up in that environment. There were plenty of chores around the house and the dairy farm to keep us busy but we did find time for fun.
Sometimes all eight of us kids would play touch football, softball and wiffle ball with 4 person teams, but mostly the older boys didn’t want to play with us little kids.
We four or five youngest kids entertained ourselves in many imaginative ways. The family moved when I was in first grade and our new farm offered new opportunities. The entire farm was our playground. We had an old quonset hut on the farm that mom had outfitted as a playhouse. It contained old pots and pans, dishes, and empty boxes of cereals and other food items, games, books and a variety of old furniture. We had dogs and cats, all of which were outside animals. My brother had a rabbit named Snowball.
Dairy farmers used powdery lime on barn alleys to absorb liquid, neutralize odors and prevent slipping. The powdered calcium carbonate was delivered by the truck load to the farm. We had a small outbuilding dubbed the lime shed used for storing the barn lime. Wheelbarrow loads would be hauled to the barn and kept in an old barrel for immediate use. But the large pile of lime in the lime shed was a play area for my little brothers and me. During hot summer days the lime remained cool. We could spend entire afternoons out of the sun in the coolness of the shed. We were road builders. We used my brothers’ Tonka trucks and various materials from around the farm like small sections of concrete drainage pipe, concrete blocks and bricks and built quite elaborate road systems in the lime. Were these roads precursors to the super highway system?
Cousins are those childhood playmates who grow up to be forever friends — Anonymous
Besides growing up with five brothers and two sisters, I was blessed with 45 first cousins. My father came from a family of 9 children and my mother was from a family of 5 and family gatherings were large, crowded, boisterous affairs. Most of us lived fairly close to one another and we saw each other rather frequently. Outside of school, I spent more time with my cousins than any childhood friends.
Today my Saturday stitching post features a cross stitch piece that is a very early item that I stitched. I believe I did it around 1984 although at the time I did not know enough to add my name and date to the work I did. I was just getting into cross stitch and had no idea that it would become a passion for me for the rest of my life. Much of my early work was completed as gifts but this is a piece I kept for myself. It did not get framed until years later but it has now been displayed in two homes that I have lived in.
These comments are heard way too often from children today. In our world with small nuclear families, where we likely live far away from extended family, don’t know our neighbors, and worry about protecting our children from threats of society, the spontaneity of childhood is diminished. Play dates have to be scheduled. Children expect adults to provide activities to entertain them. Contrast this with an agrarian society where children were first expected to do their chores and free time was easily filled with a diverse number of activities and interests. Even if they felt bored they were not likely to admit it lest they be assigned another chore.
Today kid’s lives are frequently too structured. Children at times are scheduled very heavily into different adult-driven activities. They are too often given unlimited access to TV and electronic games. While these might have a place in a child’s life, the right balance needs to be developed. Children need to be able to explore and figure out things on their own and to be spontaneous without being directed by an adult.
The things that keep children most entertained are often not the expensive flashy toys, but rather simple things found around the house. Very young children can be absolutely delighted playing with pots and pans, or cardboard boxes. As a young child in the 50’s, I certainly did not have the quantity of toys that American middle class children have today. But I was never bored. I always found a way to entertain myself. In my case I was aided by having seven brothers and sisters although the oldest of my brothers were too mature (and too cool) to play some child’s games.
Making My Home A Haven is important to me. Sharing homemaking skills. Recipes and food. Bible Studies. This is a treasure chest of goodies. So take a seat. Have a glass of tea and enjoy. You will learn all about who I am.