childhood memories : wooden spoons, bees and peanut butter cookies

Ah, sweet childhood memories…

Syrupy yellow sunlight lying comfortably across the freshly cut grass.  Shiny chrome on bright, red bicycles.  The chattering tickticktickticktickticktick of sprinklers echoing through the neighborhood.  Skinned knees, smelling of Bactine.  Rainbows made by garden hoses.  The incessant buzzing of bees.  The sound of my screaming and hysterical little brother.  The sound of my cries as my Mother spanked me all the way into the house.   Sticky sweet popsicles, melting down the arms of laughing children who I watch through the prison of my bedroom window.

I spent many hours in my sweltering bedroom over summer break.

Mostly because I was an asshole.

It was the summer of 1980, my younger brother and I were somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 and 9.  We lived in total suburbia, and everyone knew everyone else’s business.  This made us top contenders for The Black Sheep of The Neighborhood Award.  My Mother made us keep the windows closed when we were all home together, in fear of receiving an invitation to live elsewhere.

On this particular occasion, I had been “playing” in the tree-filled front yard with my brother, Joey.  I noticed a hole in the ground, and upon closer examination observed yellow jackets buzzing in and out.  How interesting!  I’d only ever seen/thrown rocks at regular old hanging bee’s nests.   I was mental patient curious about what they could be doing down there, at which point I called over my brother.

I handed him a thick piece of stick, no more than 8” long, and told him to jam the stick into the hole.  Joey did as he was told.  We watched for a few minutes, but nothing happened.  The stick was completely plugging the hole.  I backed up about 20 feet and told him to pull the stick out of the hole.  He was 5 so he would pretty much do anything I told him.

On his hands and knees, he pulled on the 3” of exposed stick.  It came out like someone pulling a dagger from a man’s heart, at first, stubborn and unwavering, then suddenly, sliding out as if it had been ripe cantaloupe all along.

Those bees must have been really pissed off when they were stuck in that hole!  As soon as the stick came out, a swarm of fury exploded out of the hole like soda from a shaken can.

Within seconds my brother was covered in them.  Running, swatting, screaming, crying.  They just followed him like a game of chase.

I was interrupted from my belly laugh by a painfully strong smack on my ass as my Mother ran by me to desperately roll my little blonde headed brother in the grass, as if he were on fire.

Once the bees were gone, and I saw the angry red welts on his face and arms, I knew I was in a whole new dimension of trouble.

After about 20 panic-stricken minutes on the phone with the doctor, and about a quart of Benadryl, the swelling subsided and we were all incredibly relieved to learn that Joey didn’t have a bee allergy.  And I was incredibly relieved to have had 20 extra minutes to rehearse my story.

With the threat of anaphylactic shock behind us, the focus shifted to me.  I had been stupidly hoping she would forget.  I saw my Mother show her teeth a little, and then she did that frantic looking around the kitchen thing.  I knew just what that meant.  She was looking for the nearest cooking utensil that she could break across my ass.  This was why all of our wooden spoons and spatula’s were broken.

This was my usual queue was to run.

I would bolt down the hallway, faster than George Clooney from a commitment, and crossing the finish line into my bedroom, I would slam and lock the door.  I would then stand behind the temporary safety of the door, crying and begging forgiveness, making false promises and swearing I would never hurt my little brother again.  Trying desperately to get a reduced sentence before my lock was popped open and in came the threatening fist-clutched spatula.

But this time was not like that.

As I watched her select her weapon of choice, a well weathered wooden spoon aka “old trusty” I turned on my heels and fled down the hallway, as usual.  What was not so usual, was the fact that when I got to my room and turned to slam my door, it wasn’t there.  There was no door.  The rest played out like you can imagine.

This was the beginning of Creative Punishment Techniques.

But of course that didn’t stop me.  My poor little brother.  I had so much fun with him!

Sometimes I would make him wear a dress and knock on the neighbors’ doors and ask for cookies.  He would cry, but he’d do it.   I’d hide behind the hedge and watch him like a hawk.  The woman in the house directly across the street usually had freshly baked peanut butter cookies, boasting crisscrossed scores from the fork neatly on top.   She must have felt sorry for us, or they thought my brother was special in a short bus kind of way because she always gave him cookies.   I’d watch him head back over, with a new enthusiasm now that he had fresh cookies in his hands.  He was so cute with his little blonde bowl cut tied in pigtails, my brown and yellow gingham dress and two big circles of rouge on his cheeks.   Once he got back behind the hedge with me, so proud of his achievement, I would take the cookies and eat every single one as the alligator tears slid down his cheeks, ruining his rouge.

I was the bestest big sister in the whole world!

Summer really was the devils playground.  Perhaps that’s why my mother would change the clocks from 7pm to 9pm. It was many years until we realized that 9pm wasn’t supposed to be bright and sunny.  Perhaps also, that’s why my Mother was so fond of Scotch.

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