S’mores, Smoke Bombs and Ketchup

My mom and dad finally got divorced when I was ten, but the marriage was over long before that. There are a lot of not so good stories that go with that time of my life, but I have made a conscious choice regarding that time of my life.

That choice has been to accept all the difficulty as a learning experience about things not to do. All the bad personal moments I witnessed or was a part of I embrace as lessons about the person I don’t want to be.

After my Mom and Dad got divorced we were always with one parent or another. While we lived with Dad, my Grandma and Grandpa were around a lot, but for the most part whether we were living with my Mom or Dad the four of us were left to fend for ourselves because Mom and Dad both worked their butts off to give us what we had.

In one big way this was great, because we learned at a very young age how to take care of ourselves. For example, I discovered my love for cooking and would make a lot of the dinners. My specialty was spaghetti with sauce made from scratch. I also made a mean RC Cola float.

In other ways, four kids left to their own devices do some really stupid things. The dumbest yet most memorable involve our kitchen stove that had the coils that got bright red when they heated up.

We did use the stove a lot to actually make food, like for roasting marshmallows for S’mores using forks. Then there was the not so smart things of lighting cigarettes. At the ripe old age of 11 I had my first got seriously addicted in high school when I got taught how to inhale and it took me more than 20 years to quit from that first one. Thank you goes to your Mom for helping me quit and I hope you never start.

Then there was nothing like the adrenaline produced when you light a smoke bomb from the coil and then run across the kitchen to the porch outside and throw it to the driveway before it goes off. In retrospect that was just a bit stupid. Your Uncle Mike was just seven or eight when he lit his first and I’ll never forget him lighting it and it immediately falling to the floor. My Dad asked later that night what smelled funny, all of us acted like we had no idea what he was talking about.

The four of us kids bonded around moments like that, but we had and still have our fair amount if disagreements. One of those disagreements resulted in use of ketchup squirt bottles as weapons. This one didn’t quite get by Dad though because we failed to clean up the ketchup that hit the ceiling.

We did get away with a hell of a lot though and ultimately those experiences are part of what helped make us closer.

It wasn’t smooth sailing to where we are at in our relationships as siblings today. As we grew up at times we grew apart, but we are family and family is an amazing thing.


A Kick to the Nuts

Well, for all my Minnesota Viking’s fan friends, they are probably thinking this is about them after that Monday night beat down. While I would like to rub it in this blog is not about them.

In a way the game inspired me to finally write about this topic, however I picked the topic almost right after I finished my last entry. Because when it comes to memorable, sequential events of my life a single kick to the nuts is a moment I will never forget and fits in right about here.

When I was eight years old I was at least as big as the eighth graders in the booming Village of Eden, WI. I was wearing your Pappa Jim’s clothes already too. This all meant I had no possible way of being high fashion and I was a clear target for the Village Bully to stake his claim.

Whenever the Village Bully would get his chance, I would get a pink belly, a wedgie, a charlie horse, pushed, shoved or embarrassed in some other fashion. One fantastic winter afternoon the Village Bully would get his due.

It all started with a game of king of the hill on the snow hill across the street from our house, and with your uncle Mike watching from the front porch I ventured out to knock the king off the hill and with one trip up the hill I caught the king not looking and watched him roll to the bottom.

The king was the Village Bully who was in his first year of high school. I was so proud of myself, I had my moment of glory. I was eight, he was a ninth grader and I was king of the hill. Only one problem, he was pissed!!!!

He came up the hill determined to get his spot back, so I relinquished it before he even got there and started to run down the other side of the hill. However, his spot had nothing to do with the top of the hill. He was going to get his spot back by kicking my ass.

I remember getting tackled, hit, getting up, trying to run away, getting tackled, getting hit, crying and trying to get away. It seemed to go on for hours, but was probably only minutes.

Then I remember hearing through my own crying. “Get away from my brother.” Your Uncle Mike had come to my defense and was immediately ignored. Big mistake.

He knew from all our own fighting the quickest way to end the fight. Literally seconds after being ignored, that’s how he ended my fall from being the king of the hill. He was four, no where near the bully’s size and that bully got his nuts kicked. The bully’s status as a bully was never quite the same.

This ultimately is one of those stories I will never forget and there is actually a lot that I learned from it. The simplest is stand up to bullies and they eventually will stop, I think mine lived in fear that my little brother might be around.

One of the other lessons is about the power of family. The power of family and the fearlessness it provides in protecting those you love is something that has been demonstrated in many acts throughout history. My most vivid experience in this was that single kick to the nuts.


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