How different it is now, as opposed to when I was a kid. And how alarmed I am to be saying that! The further away from my childhood I get, the more I realize how precious it was. Sit-down dinner at 6 PM sharp with the entire family. Elbows off the table, good manners at the ready, wonderful home-cooked dinner and discussion. Of course, we also got the 'word of the day', which always made me roll my eyes. We had to use it in a sentence at least twice the following day. Our television viewing was greatly curtailed - the Mickey Mouse Club after school, all the National Geographic, Jacques Cousteau, Jackie Gleason that we could handle and an hour of cartoons on Saturday. Mostly, it was out the door! We had an allowance that we earned, and for those special things we thought we would absolutely DIE without (such as: a black English racing bike - no gears - no handbrakes), we had to earn half of it. After it passed the parental "merit test", that is. No talking back. No calling adults by their first names.
My father loved to make us work for things - in a good way. Every summer we would pack the Dodge/Chrysler and drive way up to northern Ontario where we spent a blissful month (two weeks with our Uncle Mimmy and two weeks with Dad - and ALL weeks with Mom) in our paternal great-grandfather's hand-built log cabin on a tiny, pristine lake - no electricity, no plumbing. (I will muse further about this idyllic spot at another time. I am at great risk of blubbering at the very thought of it.) During my dad's two week stint we had a Treasure Hunt. Oh, great glory, was it fun! Dad would write up a whole series of linked clues and hide them all over the place. We had to start at point A and noodle our way around to point X, the spot where the treasure was hidden. Of course, it would have been a lot more fun if I hadn't been the eldest and the bossiest, but I was and we all lived through it. My sisters are still talking to me, so I rest my case. The Treasure usually consisted of inexpensive things that we could enjoy all summer - water toys, things like that.
When I turned 21, they had saved up and bought me a brand new Singer sewing machine. Feeling badly that they had only gotten me one thing, Dad decided to re-enact the Treasure Hunt. There was just one teensy problem with that - my birthday is in January and we lived in Ohio. After spending an increasingly frustrated hour, going from clue-to-clue, top floor to basement (he actually suspended one clue on a long string down the laundry shoot, fercryinoutloud!), my "prize" ended up being locked in the trunk of the latest Dodge/Chrysler - outside. And the trunk lock was frozen. Dad intervened when he saw me grab the tire iron. "Game over!" he said. "Kit, put on the kettle!" A half hour later, it was mine.
p.s. Why, pray tell, for a person who is fast and loose with "ie and ey and y" - Scrappy, Cookie, Bernie, Ropey, Squirrely, Reggie - is it so darn hard to say, gulp, "Veggie"?