If I Was a Kid Again <ul><li>Growing up in a Small Town </li></ul>By Delilah Gail Hinman
<ul><li>When I was nine-years-old my family lived in a little town in southern Michigan. It had around 2,000 people and didn’t even have it’s own hospital at the time. My sister was born in a nearby town barely larger than our own. Here everyone knew each other, but to us kids that was somehow okay. </li></ul><ul><li>We lived in an old farmhouse with the white paint peeling off the sides and the floorboards creaking when you walked up the stairs. The most interesting thing was a wall in the middle of the house, splitting it in two. My family lived on one side and another family on the other. We could always hear the parents heatedly arguing or the children running around wildly. They could probably hear the same thing from our side of the house. That was okay though, my brother and I were always outside exploring during the summer or ice-skating in the winter. </li></ul>
The first of spring, when the trees would sprout their first leaves and life began anew, the birds would chirp their sweet love songs. The weather was finally warming up enough for us to play outside again with only light jackets restricting our movement. When the bright blue sky donned the warm sun, my brother and I would lay on our backs in the cool grass, the moist blades tickling the back of my neck. As a kid I would gaze at the puffy white clouds as they formed shapes in my mind. When spring comes out to play I feel like a kid again, when school was nearing its torturous end and the outside was just begging for my company. Even now I am still a little kid trapped in an adult’s body. As the weather continues to turn, the more time I would spend outside with my brother and friends.
During the summer, my brother and I would explore the Indian Cove near our house, a forested area to the west. Inside was a jungle of adventure waiting for us to discover hidden treasures and uncharted territories. When we were inside the Cove the outside world did not exist. Instead we were filled with the smell of the moist air trapped inside, the piercing sound of cicadas high in the trees, and the feel of the lush green path beneath our feet. We had no one to answer to but ourselves—where we wanted to go and how long we wanted to stay.
On the south side of our house was Matteson Lake, with numerous docks reaching out past the shallows. The bank was made up of dirty sand, which we used to make sand castles with defending moats. The sand led to an old, half-painted dock behind our house. Huge piles of rock sat on each side. I never felt safe on it, like a board would snap beneath me or something. The splintered wood was so jagged and creaky, but that never stopped me from jumping into the murky water below. It would have been a shame if it had.
A few months after moving to Michigan I had my very first birthday party, at least the first one I could remember. The kids from next-door came over to have sprinkle doughnuts and mint chocolate chip ice cream—I always was an offbeat kid, not that much has changed since then. While growing up, my mom constantly bugged us to play outside rather than watch cartoons or play video games; my birthday was no exception. So after playing some “Pin the Tale on the Donkey,” we went outside. Since I was the birthday girl, I got to decide what we should do. The weather was warm and the wispy clouds in the sky begged to play outside, so I chose to ride our bikes to the Cove and pretend we were explorers on some grand adventure.
Inside the Cove were a lot of poison ivy plants and my older brother was deathly allergic. That didn’t stopped us from playing in there though—he just wore pants in the dead heat of summer. That must have been awful. I never wore pants, but I always tried to stay away from the contagious three-leafed fiends. They wanted to spread their disease to whoever brushed up against them, and that meant me. I was not going to be one of their victims. Well, at least I tried not to be a casualty. I guess I must have rubbed up against one because a couple of days later I started developing nasty red rash all over my legs. I would scratch them so much I would start bleeding. My scratching turned the red bumps into grotesque scabs. I wasn’t supposed to be allergic, that was my brother’s job, yet he emerged unscathed and I was covered!
My rash went away a couple of weeks later and I was back outside playing in the Cove. After that, I always wore pants when I went in there, though wearing them in the dead heat of summer really was awful. Apart from my newfound allergy to poison ivy, I had a pretty good birthday. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
<ul><li>As usual, summer came slowly and went quickly, and the autumn coolness and school were closing in. But one autumn I remember was the first time I saw the quintessentially American Golden Arches. I was ten-years-old and the first fast food restaurant was being built in our town, some place called McDonald’s. We anticipated it’s completion for months and when it was finally finished there was a line that wrapped around the building, hours before they opened. </li></ul>
As we waited with the rest of the townspeople, I pressed my nose against the glass window and eyed the colourful plastic slides twisting around a mesh pit filled with bright balls the size of oranges. Once inside, my mom ordered me a Happy Meal—those chicken nuggets I had for the first time were the most delicious pieces of chicken I had ever had. This just tells how small our town really was. However, I was more interested in the indoor play area. After gobbling down a few nuggets, I delightedly bounced along into the PlayPlace. Practically being a garage disposal, my brother devoured what was left of my Happy Meal and joined me in the ball pit. I love going here when it was too cold to play outside.
As autumn passed the eternity of winter was in the air. My first winter in Michigan was especially cold. I remember the plastic on the outside of our single-paned windows froze solid that year and the sky was constant with gloomy clouds. One day I was outside playing by the lake. It wasn’t completely frozen over yet, but there was enough ice to skate across, usually falling on my butt. A small patch of ice was broken through near the dock. I climbed onto the dock, leaning over to examine the icy blue depths below. Just as I was thinking about how the water looked painfully frigid, I felt a shove from behind and was suddenly swallowed up by the freezing water. It felt like a thousand needles stinging me all at once, pricking my skin with their icy daggers. I was down there so long I could have sworn my heart stopped.
<ul><li>My brother quickly realized his stupidity and the trouble he was going to be in when we got home. Running down from the dock unto the slippery ice, he fished me out of the chilly lake, calling my name and asking if I was all right. He took off my drenched parka, giving me his, and tried soothing the hot tears running down my icy cheeks. I was too cold and too scared to move so he lifted me unto his back and carried me home in the snow. </li></ul><ul><li>With blue skin and chattering teeth, my mom immediately ran to my side with a worried look on her face. She planted a kiss on my forehead as she glowered at my brother. He gave a sheepish look and shrugged. I didn’t care about tattling on him, I just wanted the soothing warmth of my mother and some chicken noodle soup. </li></ul>
I never told her he pushed me into the lake; instead I held it over his head in case he ever tried another foolish stunt. Having walking pneumonia for a couple of weeks got me off the hook a few times. In the end, everything evened out, or well, I eventually forgave him anyway and we continued playing together outside. Not much has changed in this sense since we were kids, still playing outdoors together.