Out of the cave, the tribal teepee, the pueblo, the community fortress, man emerged to build himself a house of his own with a shelter in it for himself and his diversions. Phyllis McGinley
God, in His infinite wisdom, saw fit to bestow me with sons. I love my boys but there were days I was not sure if we would survive each other. Weapons of war were not viewed as suitable toys. Nothing disuaded, my intrepid lads built swords out of sticks, guns from cut~off lenths of timber, lances from tent poles & graduated to fully fledged working bows & arrows out of She~Oak saplings & lengths of fishing line. These were more than a little scary & one or two people found out how much getting shot by a bow & arrow actually hurts!
There were some harrowing days during their fire~bug stage but as they grew bigger we bought them fishing lines, knives & lighters, built them a fire pit, taught them to use these things responsibly & let them rip for all they were worth. We only had problems then with stray friends who were not used to being responsible for their own safety & did daft things.
We had 50 acreas ~ not all ours but all bush & unused by anybody else. So long as the kids stayed on that 50 acreas they could go where they liked & pretty much do as they liked...well, you know, within limits!
Over the years I got used to the noisy silence of my boys getting up early & banging round the kitchen after bait before taking themselves off fishing. If they had luck I would be woken again some time later to view some poor gasping prize destined for the outside fire & my sons chancy cooking methods.
I have hands on kinesthetic learners & all my boys have some form of dyslexia. Jossie overcame his & became an avid reader. Dino didn't have as much initial trouble but is still my only real non~reader. Theo struggled badly for years & years but is now an avid reader. We did not have a computer. We didn't really do toys. At night I always read aloud, even when the kids could read well for themselves so I should not have been surprised, on arriving home from the mainland one day, to find a freshly mown paddock had acquired a tepee; & not only a tepee, made from She~Oak & completely shower~proof, but a little picket fence & a tiny row of miniature hay bales fashioned with the help of a sturdy ice cream bucket. It was quite the little homestead.
I was madly impressed. So was every child within cooee. Closer inquiry revealed this was Jossie's brainwave, the fist of many. Jossie, like his mother, could be fairly anti~social. He would often rather read but there were so few children in our neck of the woods he was in demand as a companion. This did not suit Jossie, who had been reading of the primary school charts for years & had graduated early to my adult fantasy library & disliked being routed out to play while in the midst of the most exciting part of a story. Nothing if not inventive Joss came up with a novel solution ~ in more than one sense of the word!
He built this amazing little homestead which had every child around just begging to be allowed to play in it. Joss then promptly outlined the plot of the latest book he was reading & sent everyone off to build a complete city in the bush with roads & highways & secret tunnels, castles & hovels, shops & farmsteads. It was madly impressive. With the game well under way Joss disappeared to read. Every so often, when the game was flagging & the plot waning, Joss would re~emerge, tweak the plot & as soon as the game was well under way again he would submerge back into his book.
Goodness knows what anyone who stumbled onto the construction would have thought! The game lasted for months but eventually the slashers arrived & began clearing the land for new houses & new neighbours arrived; neighbours who brought unsavoury habits with them & with whom we had a great deal of trouble.
I am sorry I have no pictures but in my mind's eye I can still see the knights valiant with their truebows & quivers of arrows, the fair maidens who refused to be rescued, a big hairy husky X & a giddy dalmatian standing guard against snakes & adult intrusion before the boys were old enough to grow whiskers & all the girls could think about was catching a swain.
We had a rough ride with the boys through their teen years. They wanted more than we could give & they resented it. The irony is, as one by one our children leave home & Dearest & I are left keeping a big & almost empty house, we occasionally float the idea of moving ~ somewhere a little more isolated, somewhere a little quieter with a smaller house & a slower pace of life. Each & every single time any child around rises up in arms. How could we even think of selling up the family home?! We want to bring our kids here, show them where we grew up. Ditz gets particularly wild. The child has every intention of gadding the world & living the high flying life ~ & she does NOT like to get down & dirty but she has made it abundantly clear she expects to be able to return home to where the stars can be seen in wild white streamers across the night sky, crabs are for the pots left out on the mud & if one is feeling a little peckish as one wanders through the garden one has only to snap a handful of beans, or search for red strawberries amongst the dark leaves & pop food into one's mouth. To say nothing of Issi. He would probably never speak to me again.