Mom lied to her kids.
Okay, yes, she had a good reason.
And no, it didn’t turn out well.
Maybe I should explain . . .
On the Stringam ranch, the ranch house and buildings were nestled snugly in the bend of the south fork of the Milk River.
A river that, at certain times of the year, turned into a rushing, deadly torrent.
A river to which my older sister was drawn like a baby to an IPhone.
After several hair-raising episodes in which my mom, my sister and wet, cold, muddy, slightly deadly and totally unsympathetic river water featured strongly, Mom decided to get more pro-active.
What better way to police than to make the kids want to police themselves?!
And by the way, this is where the lying comes into play . . .
Using her not unspectacular story-telling abilities, Mom described the octopus that lived in the milky waters of the great Milk River and waited patiently for little kids – its favourite snack – to show up by themselves on the river bank.
Little kids that, without parental accompaniment, were fair game. The octopus would then be able to seize and drag them down to the ‘depths’.
Her dramatic portrayal lost nothing in the telling and she soon had my sister shivering with fear.
Or what Mom mistakenly thought was fear.
The next day, Mom, happily secure in the fact that her daughter would never, ever again go near the octopus-infested waters of the Milk River, turned her back for a moment.
Only to discover that her daughter had, once again, disappeared.
And taken her 18 month-old brother with her.
Mom sprinted, out of habit, to the river.
And there she found her two little ones.
Happily clambering about the slippery slopes, looking into the dark water for a glimpse of the octopus that lived there.
I think we all learn a lesson from this.