It’s rough being the youngest child.
You believe everything your siblings tell you, go along with all their ideas, and volunteer to drive their get-away car.
You spend your whole life wanting to be cool like them.
It never occurs to you to question why they would make you stand outside the secret clubhouse, coming up with a million passwords that aren’t the right one, while they hold a tea party inside.
Oh wait, wrong set of siblings.
My kids spent a lot of afternoons out in the backyard, trying to entertain themselves.
Instead of driving my kids all day to swimming lessons, soccer practice, piano recitals, and FFA competitions, I sent them outside with the encouraging statement, “Stop destroying the house, and go find something to do!”
Then I locked the door like my mama taught me.
It’s just that I already had all of those things in my own yard. A pool. A trampoline. A couple of big climbing trees. A swing set. A garden. Toys, balls, bikes, a fort, chalk, paint, tables, chairs… chickens for crying out loud.
And enough siblings to form any sport team required to stay outside and play.
Even then, they would sneak into the garage and bring out tools of mass destruction.
It’s not like they didn’t have plenty of opportunities to stretch those budding imaginations.
But the thing is, they had a pecking order.
And even though the youngest child could look into the henhouse and say, “Well, at least I have it over you guys!”, it was a sorry and permanent situation.
It was the hour before dinner time.
The witching hour, I called it.
The kids have run out of entertainment ideas and are reduced to coming to the kitchen door every two minutes to see how dinner is coming along and to tattle on each other and to get a 52nd drink of water.
My eyes were glazing over, standing at the stove.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.
So when the screaming began, it took me a minute to register who it was, where it was coming from, and the exact level of problem it was declaring.
Thankfully, I registered just enough to turn off the burners before racing out the door.
Middle child had tried to bump off youngest child.
This wasn’t the first or last time.
Middle child had never forgotten her temporary taste of being the “family baby”.
Her two little brothers had bumped her out of position and I think she considered them more or less expendable.
She was only playing.
There may or may not have been bumping involved.
We had a fat, knotted rope hanging from the tree beside our house.
She helped her baby brother climb up on it, hanging from a big knot, and was pushing him.
“Swing like Tarzan does!” she told him, “Here’s your vine!”
Tarzan was two and a half.
“One!” she said, with a little push.
“Two!” and she pushed him a little higher.
“Three!” as she gave a mighty heave.
Which may have ended well when he came off the vine.
Except she was swinging him out directly over the concrete patio instead of the dirt piled every-single-where-else.
From the baseball sized egg sprouting from his forehead, a concussion seemed logical. The wind knocked out of him. Various scrapes and bruises predicted. Massive headache incoming.
And his little arm was broken.
We all did some crying.
Tarzan got a green cast.
And really, she would have flown under the radar if the following story hadn’t occurred…