The Last Mile or…850 Metres to School

I am a survivor of my childhood.  With all the helmets, and helicopter parenting going on nowadays, it’s a wonder that I am still alive to share any stories of my childhood.  Perhaps I am one of the lucky survivors.  Today I will share with you the terrifying tale of a specific part of my childhood.  Luckily, no child in this day and age in North America, will have to survive this kind of ordeal.

My mother had (and has) a green thumb.  No, not gangrene.  For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it means she can take any flower or plant (dead or alive) and make it blossom and grow.  When we moved into our new “forever home”, my mother decided that it would be wonderful to have dahlias in front of our house.  My mother loved them.  I dreaded them.  Why?  They were the perfect hiding spot for my sworn insect enemy…the grasshopper.  Foliage and insects were to be my yearly springtime horror story.

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As a child who had just moved into a new neighbourhood, there were already many challenges that I had to deal with.  New school.  New friends (or lack thereof).  New teachers.  Every spring I would walk out my front door, look to my right and see the tall, green, leafy dahlias with their perky red flowers; they were taunting me.  They knew they harboured my repulsive flying insect enemies.  I would take a deep breath and prepare myself for the attack.  My mother would be behind me in the doorway yelling at me to hurry up so I wouldn’t be late for school.  What did she know.  There was going to be a volley of insects flying at my head ready to blind me with every step.  It would take precision and trickery to fool my flying enemies.  My plan of action:  One step forward and two steps back.  I remember taking one step forward and, as I was taking my “two steps back”, IT would fly out of the dahlia bush.  Sure, this took about 5 to 9 minutes to accomplish my trek, but my head would not be permanently scarred by grasshopper kamikaze.  Mission accomplished.

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Oh, the trials and tribulations of walking to school.  Directions were not an issue.  All I had to do was turn right out of my driveway and keep walking until I got to school.  No problem there.  However, there were some challenges I experienced along the way.  Here are but a few:

  • RABID DOG:  I would be walking to school and see a dog.  It was a ferocious dog.  There was no owner walking with that dog.  Its teeth were bared and ready to sink its jaws into my neck and rip me apart.  (Ok, I have a flare for the dramatic.)
    • Usually, I would see the dog and cross the street.  If, perchance, it decided to follow me, I would point my index finger at it and yell loudly, “Go home!” as my mother had taught me to do.  Not sure why it understood me, but it would usually just meander away.
  • UNEVEN SIDEWALK:  I was one of the lucky (unlucky?) kids who didn’t have to eat lunch at school.  I could go home for lunch!  Ok, I’ll be honest, I loved coming home for a yummy hot meal.  However, as attention spans go, I was always a dreamer and it took me longer to get home than most obedient children.  By the time I got home, my mother was fuming and force-feeding me so that I would get back on time.  On parent teacher interview day, I was lectured and pre-reprimanded about being home on time for lunch.  That day I ran home and totally missed seeing the lump of dirt that was suddenly on the sidewalk and WHAM!  Face first into the lovely cement sidewalk.  I made it home on time!  I also made it back to school on time too.  Kudos to me!  My unpopularity became even more pronounced with the appearance of a bandage across my nose.IMG_3082
  • STRANGERS IN CARS:  I remember being lectured about not talking to strangers.  I got in big “doo-doo-ka-ka” when a strange lady in a car stopped beside me as I was walking to school.  Why?  Apparently “stranger lady” was my aunt’s friend coming to visit her and she was trying to ask me for directions.  (Note:  never ask me for directions.  I really have no idea where places are, what streets are called, and basically, I usually don’t know where I am.  There.  You’ve been told.)
  • BULLIES:  When my brother was old enough to attend the same school, he decided that he wanted to tell the local bully off.  My sister job was to protect my younger brother.  One day, it got so bad that Mini-bully-boy picked up a big, gargantuan rock and threw it high up in the air to annihilate my baby bro.  What happened?  I stepped in to block the rock and it landed ungracefully on my big toe.  What happened next?  I limped for several weeks.  My toe nail fell off after turning completely blue / purple / green / yellow.  Oh the rainbow of pain!

Remarkable isn’t it.  I walked through snow, wind, sleet, thunderstorms, humidity, and grasshopper skies.  I walked all the way to school.  Not once, but twice a day!  Oh sure, I had an umbrella.  I had winter boots.  I had a winter coat.  I also walked the last mile…or 850 metres.  Uphill.  Both ways.  And I survived.

Oooooh my aching stomach…

It’s true.  My stomach muscles are a little sore today.  Yesterday evening I did something that I haven’t done in so long and my stomach muscles were just not accustomed to it.  They got quite the workout last night.  No, not sit-ups.  No crunches or pilates.  And I didn’t overeat either.  What ails me today is those good rip roaring belly laughs.  You know the ones where you beg people to stop telling their story because it’s just tooo funny!

Last night I played catch up.  One of my favourite sayings in life is that there are people that come into your lives for a reason or a season.  The “reason” people are the ones that you lose touch with quite quickly, but they are in your life to fill a void, or are there to fascilitate changes in your future life in some way.  The “season” people are the ones that hang around much longer.  Could even be a lifetime.  They are your constants.  These are the people, that even if you haven’t seen them for a long, long time, it’s like you had seen them yesterday and you can just continue from where you left off the previous time you saw them.

Well, I was lucky enough to hang out with two fantastic people who are “seasons” to me.  We shared stories, we laughed, we ate, we joked.  The night just went by too quickly.  Six hours together and we were high…on life!   There had been so many good laughs and funny stories.  Although we are all lacking from sleep today, it was well worth it.  We talked until after midnight and it wasn’t until the reality of the time hit us, that we realized we shall have to continue with story telling another day.

Stories began with…remember when…From there we strolled down memory lane talking and laughing about silly things that were done in our childhood days.  We  jumped from remember when, to remember this person, to “oh last year we” and the adventures that each of us were on.  Then on to our kids and the funny things that they do and say.  All this between sips of strawberry dacquiris and delicious, authentic Thai food. 

I hope today you have the chance to meet up with someone you haven’t talked to in a long time and play catch up.  Find out what’s been going on in their lives.  You will find that sharing and caring is a wonderful part of story exchange.  If you’re lucky enough, you’ll be leaving, clutching your middle and saying:  Ooooooh my aching stomach.