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Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Buy toys for your kids and grandkids with a critical eye. I'd avoid toys from China; last  was lead in the  paint, this year cadmium figures in kiddie jewelry. The safety of our kids is threatened daily, and we watch them closely to protect them from "the Stranger".

 I yearn for the toys of my childhood. Are they really as safe as I remember? Jumpropes, jacks, paddle balls, and board games like "Uncle Wiggly" took up hours of time after chores were done.

Do you remember ranging the great outdoors unsupervised? One of our favorite places was the swamp next to Candy's house. Her folks tied a climbing rope on a tree branch, but we leaped it on to swing out over green smudged sludgy water. What a delicious thrill as we hung on like ticks, swooping out and back to safety. What if we fell in? A few parental words about mud, a swish with the water hose, a bath and change of clothes. We might have had to stay home for the rest of the day, but we were kiddie heroes to our friends.

After sunset we retired to someone's yard after supper. The summer twilight was long in Wisconsin, and perfect for hide-and-seek, kick the can, or Midnight (What time is it Mr. Wolf?). As darkness glided over us, lightning bugs flickered and blinked as we biked our way home. Heat lightning flashed in the distance, and crickets sang as we readied for bed, exhausted from miles of pedaling and playing.

Our children and grandbabies miss out on that most of the time. I'm glad we're here in the boonies where they can run and play. Sure there are dangers here, like poison oak and snakes, but we teach them early, and review often how to avoid trouble. I smile when I see Ali or Spud trotting alone down the right-of-way to the shooting range, Sarah taking her Papa Art for a walk around the far edges of the property just for company, or the kids running as a pack on the trails.

Best of all, no Stranger danger here. There's a big dog in training,  our family's reputation is well known, and that of our friends, too.  The kiddoes are safe to stretch their muscles,exercise their inaginations,and wear themselves out.

Sheer bliss to see them, grubby and weary, trudging to the car, experiencing the freedom I had as a kid, a long time ago.


  1. I know what you mean. The last couple of years in Nevada I used to head into the desert from the ranch and spend the day alone. I had the single shot .22 rifle, about 20 cartridges, a canteen and lunch. Also a belt knife Dad had bough me some years earlier.
    I would climb into the mountains and spend the day exploring. The folks knew which dirrection I had gone off in and I knew I had to be home by dark.
    I kept my distance from the sidewinders and scorpions. There was no one to tell me if a rock wall was too steep or not stable. If it looked dangerous I stayed away from it, most of the time.
    Those are some of my happest childhood memories. The first time I did it I was less than 10. I don't want to think what CPS would make of that today.

  2. I'm sure there would have been an uproar, if the folks there were like the modern day CPS.

    I liked being able to range all over the lake in a rowboat with friends when we moved to Muskego when I was 11. Fish, explore, everything was fine as long as you packed a life jacket.

  3. What about walking to school? I used to walk from Rosslyn & 43rd to Waltrip High & didn't think it was a big deal.

    Mrs. Hang