Saturday, July 14, 2012

No such thing as "bored"

When I was a kid, there was no such thing as "bored."

"Get out from underfoot" 

When I was a kid "bored" was a four letter word.

In my house, if I used the "b" word, I had to clean the bathrooms for the entire summer.

Nope.  Summertime at the Holmgren house had one rule only.  If you were a kid - you better damn well keep yourself occupied.

That's why, every summer I can remember, I  organized a Summer Day School for the neighborhood kids.  We conducted classes on my mom's front porch.

Art lessons, a little music, a whole bunch of paper crafts - and before the close of each day - we always played their favorite game.

We called it - "Pied Piper."

Every school kid was issues a tonette in 3rd Grade.
And I, of course, was always, always the "piper."

A little bit of terror never hurt anybody.

Tooting "The Star Spangled Banner" on my tonette - the instrument every St. Paul school kid was issued in third grade - I marched my young playmates around our block, pausing in front of random houses where I spun tales of murder, witchcraft, disappearing children and intrigue.

"All the paper boy wanted was to be paid," I said, standing before the elegant, Goodrich Avenue tutor, innocuous and well maintained. "He knocked at the door  -  and was never seen again."

My little charges would shiver in the ninety-degree summer heat - holding tight to the hand I assigned them to grasp.

The buddy system was important to the Pied Piper march.

"We have to watch out for each other," I reminded them in ominous tones.  "This neighborhood isn't what it appears."

Of course - it was all a lie.

The neighborhood was exactly as it appeared.  The houses were populated with respected, delightful, welcoming and loving mommies and daddies.

"This rock," I said, "appeared overnight."
But that, my dears, was simply - boring.

Making the ordinary tolerable.

"This rock," I said as the little children shivered around me, "appeared overnight.  No one knows where it came from or how it arrived.  Try and lift it."

The silly boys would bend, push, strain to move the impossible boulder.

"Imagine the strength, the muscle, the power of the creature who put this rock in this place.  Image what such a creature could do to the human body."

Sometimes, when I went too far, little Mary Foley would start to cry.

The front porch of the cozy cottage
On days like that, the Piper suspended all tales - and led her little charges back to my mom's front porch for home made ice cream and a few rounds of Old Maid, played in the shade - sometimes, with pink lemonade.   I swear this is true.


Scratch a writer and you'll find an overactive, sometimes pathological imagination.

Today - my tonette is retired.  Instead of piping the children around the neighborhood, I attract them to the front porch of my cozy cottage in St. Paul's Como Park.

Popsicles in the summer.
The treats are the same.  Popsicles in the summer - apple pie in the fall.  I throw a mean Halloween party every year.

And of course -  the stories.

Theses days, I'm a good listener.  The kids in my neighborhood have big, big imaginations.

There's no such thing as "bored."


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