When I was a child, my parents would send me outside to play. There was a whole gang of kids in the neighborhood. I’d just go door to door until I found someone else who could come play with me. We all lived within a block or so of each other on the same street.
My mom worked outside the home as a cashier for a Pier One-type of store some odd hours, usually different from my dad’s 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. job at the railroad. She worked a lot of weekends and my dad stayed home with me.
I had been to Chief Garry Park a dozen times. It was just down the street a few blocks. Huge slides, sling swings, a jungle gym, story time with the grown ups who dress like elfs and read books under the big tree. Chief Garry must have been one great guy because someone created this little piece of heaven just a short way from my childhood home. And sometimes, I’d be lucky enough to have one parent or the other take me there.
Back in those days, I had a great big bright blue tricycle, like a Radio Flyer, with plastic rainbow colored streamers that hung off the ends of white handlebars. I had a friend, Little David, from down the street. Little David and Little Karen decided one day that it would be fun to ride our trikes to Chief Garry Park to play. So much fun to be had!
I don’t remember whose idea it was (probably mine- I was a ringleader back in the day) but off we went. What’s that you say? Did I tell anyone where I was going? Was I supposed to? I mean, after all I was four or five years old. Much older than quite a few of my gang. Little David was the same age. We were big kids now.
Up the block on the sidewalk we rode. Crossed the first intersection, no traffic – no problem. Just a bunch more houses to pass and then to Mission Street! Once we crossed that big street, we’d be in the land of playground bliss. Pedal, pedal, pedal. Ahh. Mission Street. Two directions of travel, two lanes each.
Hmmm. Lots of cars. Should we go yet? You go, Little David. I will follow. Wait!
What’s going on? Daddy?! And he was with Little David’s mommy. Uh-oh. All of a sudden, I had a feeling that I might have done something wrong here. My dad had picked me up before I could cross Mission Street. Trike in one hand, me in the other, I was on my way to punishment.
There was a lot of yelling. I think there may have been some laughing – not mine of course. Where the hell did I think I was going? Did I not know I scared my daddy half to death?
I was to never ever even think of crossing Mission Street, again.
I was spanked.
I was sentenced to sitting in a corner.
I had never sat in the corner before. I cried.
Punishment took place in my little kid’s fully padded, upholstered rocking chair. The chair was a dirty beige and brown with a pattern of cowboys and horses on it in little ovals across a plain beige plastic. (Now that I think about it, what the hell? Why did I have a boy’s patterned rocking chair? I never liked that western – cowboy- motif!) I remember that the chair was made of plastic – the kind that gets cracked and peels away.
I was quite busy in that chair, trying to catch my breath from crying so hard. And I was holding a bottle of baby powder thinking it smelled so good. My very first time out. That time out was also my last. It wasn’t that I was a good kid after that. I guess my dad simply did not like putting me in time outs.
This is one of my strongest memories of my childhood with my dad.
Today, my dad is a strong, resilient, opinionated, 79 year old man. To me, that rocking chair was yesterday. Where did all that time in between go? I don’t know. But I know the man who put me in that time out taught me love, patience, understanding, strength, will and how to argue.
He is also a loving husband whose 55th wedding anniversary to my mom coincides today with Father’s Day. Happy Anniversary to my amazing parents!
My Dad does not know I have a blog or that I have written this here for him. And it’s best for everyone to keep it that way. I love him more than I could ever say. God bless you, Daddy. You are one of a kind. I have no idea why I was fortunate enough to draw you in the lottery of life as a father but I am grateful every single day.
Happy Father’s Day!