One of my favorite activities as a summertime child on the farm involved the use of sticks. We never really knew we were poor (much to my parent’s credit) but my favorite toy was a stick. I have to believe that my mom looking out through the kitchen window at my activities had to be thinking: “What is that boy doing now?”
The trees on the farm were a constant source of entertainment for me. I remember the first time I fell out of a tree on my back knocking the breath out of me. I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t inhale, couldn’t yell for mom, or anything. Just when I thought I was heading for the pearly gates I would slowly figure out how to breathe again and go on playing. The perfect stick was my best toy. I would take the smaller one and use as a sword; swashbuckling my way through the yard, defeating countless enemies. Sometimes I would have one in each hand as I battled. (Again, I can’t help but wonder what my mom was thinking when she looked out the window). I bigger stick would be a perfect rifle and I would spend my time defeating the Germans of WW2 with dramatic leaps and sprints to protected areas for the next expert marksman shot. Sometimes a sniper in a tree where I would be hit and fall out, dramatically hitting the ground but rolling to a shooting position to kill my pursuer. An even bigger stick would be a pole vault pole for me. I would practice poling from one place to another; from one dirt pile to another and when I got daring I would actually use it to pole vault over a barb wire fence.
My toys were not expensive, free in fact. A good stick was a great rifle and a clod of dirt made a great grenade. Kids today have too much money spent on them. I saw a 10ish boy yell at his mom because the gun she bought for his Wii wasn’t the right one for the game he was playing. The gun cost $50, the Wii another $100 and then you have the game and the TV on top of that. Probably over $500 to play the same game I was playing… only I had fun … outside.
I miss the summertime of my childhood but not just for me. I miss that summertime because the parents today think that joy in being a child comes from THINGS and not from imagination and freedom. Money cannot buy a child joy in his/her youth. Freedom to experience new things, letting their imagination run wild not their strong will. Sure, I wanted new toys and would cry when my mom and dad didn’t get me the perfect thing but soon after I realized all the crying in the world was not going to change their minds I picked up my stick and rode it into my imagination.