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Be kids while raising kids

Writing doesn’t start on a blank sheet of paper – it starts in the head. Yeah-yeah, I know those who know me well are in doubt about that one.

There’s only so much writing material in our house. Beyond our marital bliss, my brain turns stagnant. So, with my computer in tow, I headed for the coffee shop, positive some strong coffee and a scone would feed my brain and conjure up a brilliant article.

Coffee shops can be busy, sometimes noisy places, where each patron is talking louder than the others, to be heard over the chatter. But walk through the door and you are surrounded by fellowship. I (and obviously others) can sit in this din, shut out all the clamor, and read a book, do school work, bang out newspaper articles, or write a book. I’m not sure how that works, but it does.

Sitting next to me was a young lady I had not met before, who pondered over her work papers. As she got up to leave, we struck up a conversation. She is our city manager, Rachel Skaggs. My having worked at city hall for 17 years left us with much in common. It was worth the trip out this morning just to meet Rachel.

“Honestly, did you like it when your kids were back in school after summer vacation?” I was asked this by Kate, the cute little coffee shop cashier this morning. It was as though she let out a sigh of relief as she said it. It only took a few seconds for a warm fuzzy to wash over me as flashes of fun activities with my kids ran through my mind. My answer: “I had so much fun with my kids during the summer months.”

Memories of riding the bike with them, sitting and reading while the kids played in their little swimming pools in the back yard, or on their swing sets, afternoon snacks of lemonade and homemade cookies, or cooling off with popsicles. When our son, Brad, was little I would give him the end of the water hose and turn it on low. He wouldn’t go any farther than the hose stretched, and he was kept busy all afternoon.

The fall Brad was 2 years old it was our job to gather pine cones for making fall wreaths. My mom was in charge, so I’d say we were “gathering pine cones for Grandma.”

Brad and I spent a lot of time in Oakland Cemetery picking up the good ones, and Brad’s treasures of a few mutilated by mowers. Not long into the project, each time we passed any cemetery with the tombstones sticking up, Brad would excitedly yell, “Grandma, Grandma.” Mamma didn’t appreciate that one bit.

Halloween time – it wasn’t just the kids in costume.

Winter months were fun too. It was the perfect quiet evening snowfall, great for packing and building snowmen, balls, or forts. “Okay, kids, out you go.”

They were all bundled up they headed out. Large snowflakes were filling in the kids’ footprints and snow angels as fast as they were made. It was too much – I had to join them. We wound up dragging the dog house from the backyard to the front (no easy feat), and that great packing snow turned into Snoopy on his house. As we put the finishing touches on him, a missile whacked me in the back. The blame was directed toward the kids until I realized they were all busy with Snoopy. Lurking back in the darker corners of the yard next door was our laughing neighbor, Carol Sledgister. She joined the kids and the snowball fight was on. Who had more fun?

I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom until our youngest, Tracy, was in third grade. As the kids passed toddler age and didn’t require constant supervision, there were times I’d send them outside, and go about my business. With time slipping by, I’d suddenly realize, “Gee, I’d better check on them.” By today’s standards, I would go down for child neglect. But they knew to come at the blast of my Boy Scout whistle.

P.S. – Never having opened my computer, I left the coffee shop with my brain whirling and came home to write.

Don’t forget to FROG.

Earlene Campbell lives by the FROG motto — Fully Rely On God. She resides in Princeton and can be reached at earlenecampbell@rocketmail.com.

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