|For farm use only . . .|
For kids who had been raised on the farm, moving to the big town was a big step.
They handled it well.
The street we were on was a 'local traffic only' type.
Alive with kids and bikes and . . . playing.
Perfect for anyone excited at the prospect of making new friends.
Which my kids were.
In no time, they had troops of buddies traipsing through the house.
Playing in the yard.
Running in the street.
Okay, that last activity probably sounds . . . dangerous.
But there were nearly 50 kids living in the houses on our street.
Anyone coming into the street lived there.
And drove carefully.
Moving on . . .
For the first while, our family was simply happy to have landed in such a wonderful place.
Tons of playmates.
A dream come true.
But, like many dreams, this one came with a cold dose of reality.
Let me explain.
Our house was built on the side of a hill.
With a potential walk-out basement.
Walk-out, I mean.
But the balcony looking out from the back had a lovely view of the neighbours below and on either side of us.
And on to the fields outside of town.
The kids spent a lot of time out there on the balcony.
Talking and playing.
Hollering across at the neighbours' kids.
Generally having a good time.
But our children were essentially farm kids.
They were virtually innocent when it came to the sophisticated 'town' children.
One day, a young man came home with our oldest son.
They had played Nintendo for a while, then moved out on the back deck to see the sights.
Which included our next-door neighbour's three children, happily playing in their back yard.
Now, here is where the story gets sticky.
My son had a BB gun.
A 'You'll put your eye out!' BB gun.
On the farm, it had been great fun.
Trying to hit gophers.
Sometime, I'll tell you about the gophers.
But once we had moved to town, the gun had stayed in a rack on the wall.
There was nothing to safely shoot at in town.
I emphasize the word, 'safely'.
But my son's new friend was intrigued by this toy.
He asked if he could hold it.
Take it outside.
Shoot at the fence boards.
Ummm . . . I guess that's all right.
But it didn't stop there.
The boy shot a couple of times at the fence.
Then decided that the little kids next door offered better targets.
My horror-struck son watched as the boy shot once over the fence.
Then he grabbed the gun and ran down to his room.
Soon, there was a knock at our front door.
I opened it to find our neighbour, red-faced with anger.
“Did you know that your kids were shooting a BB gun at my kids?”
I stared at him.
My kids knew better than that.
I hollered for my son, who dragged himself up the stairs.
The picture of guilt.
I didn't even have to ask.
“It was my friend,” he said. “He shot at the kids over the fence.”
“Well, he hit one of them,” the outraged dad said.
I looked at my son, horrified. “Why didn't you tell me?”
“I didn't know what to do,” my son said. “I grabbed the gun and ran with it.”
“Where's your friend?”
“Probably a good thing,” the dad muttered. “What's his name?”
My son told him.
He looked squarely at my son. “You have some apologizing to do,” he said. Then he stalked off down the street, intent on retribution.
My son and I stared at each other for a moment.
Then he quietly handed me the gun.
And walked next door to apologize.
We learned a few lessons that day.
- You can make friends with kids.
- But all kids don't make good friends.
- And farm toys seldom make the transition to town.
The BB gun never saw the light of day again, until we moved from that house and it ended up in the garage sale.
And my son found different friends.
Painful lessons, in more ways than one.
But well learned.