Growing up is mud pies, cut fingers, skin’t knees and elbows. Growing up is scars that don’t go away – they tell your story. Growing up is both a mangy dog and fleas in your favorite hand-me-down sleeping bag – you don’t mind, he’s a friend. Growing up is your first view of the Pacific Ocean and first taste of lobster caught out of the back of the restaurant. Growing up is a sleeping on your favorite horse under the oak trees on a hot summer day – you don’t mind falling, you can get back up by way of the barb wire fence. Growing up is a BB gun – hunting for song birds. Growing up is your first shotgun – for crows and squirrels. Growing up is led shot is the bottom of the stew pan – and between your back teeth. Growing up is your first teepee, log cabin, fuzz stick – with two matches. Growing up is your Boy Scout firem’n chit and tote’n chit – with the burns and cuts to show that you earned ‘em. Growing up is grasshoppers collected on the morning grass – next to the favorite fishing pond. Growing up is cane poles, a red and white cork, and a big grasshopper, that just clawed you – on the end of the line. Growing up is a family camping trip in the back of an old Ford at a place a long ways away (20 miles from your home). Growing up is learning how to carve a ball captured in a piece of wood from an old man with a sharp knife – and him letting you help him with his. Growing up is jumping quail and peeing your pant – just a little. Growing up is eating pears out of a pear tree – until you’re sick. Growing up is eating more pears out of a pear tree, the next day – until you’re sick.
Growing up is your first hunting lease and first deer. Growing up the first gun you have bought on your own. Growing up is camping with a high school friend with shotgun propped against a tree and a rabbit on the fire. Growing up is skipping school to go fishing. Growing up is skipping school to go hunting. Growing up is simply taking time to just to be.
Growing up is time watching your kids do the their own thing in their own way and realize amount of the time that your parents spent watching you experience your first of many times. It’s realizing that your parents truly understood the difference between good-for-you, good-for-you-might-get-you-hurt, and might-get-you-killed. It’s realizing the fragile balance between a boy becoming a man a girl becoming a woman or simply being an adult. It’s realizing that your parent’s decision to let you do was much harder than you actually doing it.
Growing up is a story, not a common adult story, but the story of building independence in people. I watch my boys experience their first dirt, spit grit, and take another bite. Dirt is more than dirt, there’s some true grit in there.