Letter offers new perspective on childhood

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

While cleaning out the attic recently, I found an old box of letters written to my late mother. One letter was from her sister. My Aunt Bernadette ended the letter with “And how are the two little hellions?”  

I looked at the date of the letter: 1958. Was she talking about me and my older brother (he beat me into this world by a mere 14 months)? We were only 5 and 6! What was she talking about? I called my older sister. 

“Was Aunt Bern referring to Sandy and me?”  

“Of course” she responded, “you two were a handful.” 

Now my personal memory of my childhood was that Sandy was definitely a handful; but me?   

Then I realized that Aunt Bern would only have written the question as a response to my own mother’s letter. Yet, I do not remember either of my parents describing us that way. 

This letter has altered my perspective of my entire childhood. It is true, Sandy and I did drive our tricycles under the storm windows which were leaning against a wall.  I have scars along the back of my neck to prove it.  

We did disappear, with some cousins, picking blueberries one summer; but I only remember great pancakes the next morning, not any repercussions.  

We did make our Robinson Crusoe rafts out of the local farmer’s cornstalks. But I really would not classify any of these as the activities of little hellions.

Fortunately, for our parents, we lived in the country during the 1950s. Instead of keeping us indoors, they just sent us outside to play. We would come back hours later with filthy hands (mud pies), straw in our hair, (jumping into bales) along with an assortment of cuts and bruises.   

Looking back now, I suppose we were a handful. My parents raised eight children and Sandy and I were in the middle of the pack. Maybe their preoccupation with our siblings allowed us the freedom to explore.  

As it turns out, Sandy and I grew up to be hardworking adults (although he is still a bit hyperactive). He loves to fish, play softball and go boating. His little sister loves writing, reading and boating. 

And although he and I have not “played” together for a long time, we were lucky to have found companions with the same energy levels.  

So, during this period between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I would like to offer a prayer of thanks to my parents. I am glad you let us channel all that energy, mom and dad.  And I am glad you never told us we were your little hellions.