The munchkins progressed as munchkins do, growing out of clothing, learning how to get hold of more things that they aren’t supposed to touch, etc. I felt it was my job to teach them how to be safe in the world.
We purchased our first barbecue grill when munchkin 2 had just learned to crawl. Of course munchkin 1 had already taught us how dangerous munchkin mobility could be. And now, we had a device that could remove the skin from their little hands, or cheeks, or whatever part of them that touched it when it was hot. I had to find a way to teach them, in a way that they would never forget, that the Webber Kettle Barbecue was something they wanted no part of.
I remembered how as a very young child, about 3 years old I think, I was with my own mother and father, running on a beach. We were the only family there on this particularly sunny day. I ran across the sand, reveling in the joy of movement. Unknown to me, someone had enjoyed a bonfire on that beach, and had responsibly buried the hot coals in sand before they left. You can guess what happened. I ran across that very spot where the still hot coals were buried, and they weren’t buried deep enough. I always remembered that pain, and certainly didn’t want my children to ever feel anything like it.
It didn’t take me long to come up with a plan to teach the munchkins what they needed to know. I fired up the barbecue and let the coals get blistering hot. I then picked up munchkin 1 and placed her little hand in mine. I then slowly moved both of our hands toward the hot fire. It didn’t take long before munchkin 1 began to squirm, as the heat was very uncomfortable, almost painful. When I knew she felt the discomfort, I pulled both of our hands away from the heat and simply said, “Hot!” I repeated this action two more times. I then picked up munchkin 2 and did the same thing with him.
From that day on, all I had to do was point at something and say the word, “hot”, and it was sufficient to keep the children from wandering even close to the object. And, my DW and I had a rule. If we pointed at something and said hot, then that item must either be hot, or have the potential to be hot. We never tried to fool our little munchkins.
After the little ones came along, sleeping in late on a Saturday morning ceased forever more. The munchkins loved to wrestle with dear old dad. And I loved to rough-house with them. They always awoke before me. And it seems that I was elected to be their favorite toy, and head cook of the house. So, I’d be lying in bed, minding my own business, sawing logs, when without provocation, or warning, I would be attacked by two munchkins and a wife. A great deal of laughter and giggling, with an occasional yelp would sound through our home. We had a great time.
After the rough awakening thrust upon me, it was then my duty to cook up a batch of my world famous pancakes (and they really are pretty famous) for the crew.
You know, with memories like those, I really can refer to that time period as “The good old days”.
A fond memory from my own youth was sleeping over at Grandpa’s house. I had a few good friends who lived near Grandpa’s house. But sometimes, it wasn’t playing with my friends that was the attraction. My grandparents treated me like a prince. The morning would start with breakfast, and what a breakfast it was. I was a skinny kid who was two years behind all of my peers in growth. That worked to my advantage, as my Grandmother was always trying to “fatten me up”. To give you a sense of how skinny I was, I weighed in at thirty-two pounds in 2nd grade.
Breakfast always started with a grain. Sometimes it was a sugar coated cereal such as Sugar Smacks, or Life. Sometimes it was simply a slice of bread soaked in milk, with a teaspoon of sugar sprinkled on top. The was followed by one of three offerings, 2 poached eggs, made in butter lined poaching cups (can you say yum!) and placed on buttered toast, with a side of either bacon or sausage, and a bit glass of my all time favorite beverage – ice-cold milk, or pancakes and syrup, again with sausage, or bacon, and milk, or waffles with the same sides. I loved all of those equally, but most often had pancakes. My Grandpa would come in with a platter-full, singing a little verse while he carried them into the dining room. That verse has become aa required part of any pancake breakfast at my home. It goes like this. “Pancakes are delicious. Pancakes are so fine. I oughta know, ‘cause I like ‘em so, that I eat ‘em all the time.” It’s a tradition. Munchkin 1 & 2 know that song as well, as do the later munchkins. I haven’t got to them yet.
Side note: We have a pancake breakfast at our church every spring, with real maple syrup from one of our member’s sugar shack. It has been determined that I am to be the head pancake maker at this function, until time ends. So, that being the case, and since it’s my recipe that is used and loved, I make everyone who attends sing that little song before I will start serving up the food. Yes, knowledge is power. Heh, heh.
Anyways, back to my own family; Breakfast was followed by Tarzan, Superman, Thunder Cats, Voltron, The Smurfs, and Strawberry Shortcake cartoons, with maybe some Bugs Bunny thrown in for fun. The rest of the weekend was spent catching up on chores, and then some kind of family activity, which could be anything from a visit at Grandma’s, to an afternoon at the beach. And since I was a sailor at the time, and stationed at North Island Naval Air Station on Coranado Island, we got to use the beach that was owned by the Navy. There wasn’t the crush of people there, as there was on all of the San Diego beaches. We had a lot of fun.
Before the munchkins were good swimmers, we lived in a condo complex in a little nearby town called Santee. There was a pool available to us. To teach the munchkins to swim, I’d put there inflatable “floties” on their little arms and carry them into the pool, one at a time. The water was up to my chest, and was deep to them. We had enormous fun. At that time in my life, I could swim 1 ½ lengths of an Olympic sized pool underwater, in one breath. I’d also had scuba lessons and so was a pretty good swimmer (I grew up next to a very large river – 35 foot deep and ¾ of a mile wide in many places) as I’d been swimming most of my life. The first thing I did to get the munchkins accustomed to the water was done in the bath tub. When they were big enough to sit up by themselves, I would play with them in the tub, me on the outside, or in swimming trunks. We would splash water and play with tub toys while I washed them up. I always had a pitcher with me, and would occasionally fill it and pour a continuous stream of water in front of them. I loved watching them reach out to try and grab the stream, not understanding why their little hands just couldn’t get hold of that interesting looking liquid. Every now and again, I would just dump a pitcher full of water over their head. They quickly became accustomed to this and though it part of the “play time with dad”. Needless to say, the munchkins loved taking baths.
When I’d take them to the pool, I would jump up and down in the water, holding the either of the munchkins, and suddenly pinch a little nose and submerge for an instant. They would gasp as they came out of the water and blink a few times, but were ok with it as they had lots of water poured over their heads in the tub. Before long, they were holding my neck, while lying on my back as I swam from one end of the pool to the other, using the breast stroke. When they got used to that, I swam under water with them holding me the same way. They loved it. Shortly after that, they learned to swim on their own. And that’s when things became challenging!
We’d all be playing in the pool and I’d hear from one of the kids, “Daddy, catch me!”, at which point I’d turn to see a little munchkin body flying through the air toward me. And they loved to show off their “diving” skills, doing flips through the air, and cannon balls, and swan dives, none of which displayed any semblance of grace or coordination. And of course DW and I would compliment them on their form and amazing ability. Sometimes we’d have splash fights, or chicken fights, with one munchkin riding on Mommy’s shoulder, and the other on mine. They liked mine better because Mommy always got tripped up and lost. Remember, I’m the one with the judo training.
Well, it’s late yet again, and I need sleep. So goodnight and sleep well. I hope you have as much fun with your family as I did, and still do with mine.
“There is no success outside the home that justifies failure in the home.”