Cowgirl Sass & Savvy: Taking the ‘we’ out of Wii

Julie Carter is a New Mexico writer and author whose column appears weekly on Rio Grande Digital.

Julie Carter

When we were kids, “we” were the four children my parents herded around a large middle-of-nowhere ranch.

We climbed hills, rocks, trees, haystacks and barns. We used ropes, boards, canvas, blankets and anything we could find to create forts and cabins for our imaginary games.

We fished and swam in the beaver dam ponds, camped by the creek and told ghost stories by firelight while we roasted marshmallows on willow sticks.

We rode horses with reckless abandon and in places only God knew where we were. We shoveled out barns and weeded the gardens that were fertilized with the byproduct.

We had daily chores that included milking, wood chopping, ash hauling, animal feeding and that was before we got in the house. That would later be followed by table setting, clearing and dish duty.

We assisted dad with veterinarian jobs that involved blood, bodily fluids and sharp objects. We also seasonally hunted just about everything, ate it all and of course, that involved guns, gun safety and responsibility.

We learned confidence, independence and following the rules; all established early in our young lives.

When my brother, who was maybe 3, and I, the older, wiser sister at 5, decided to leave home and walk to grandma’s house a couple miles away, my parents allowed it.

They watched us amble up the road and out of sight. My dad, before following discreetly behind, phoned my grandmother and told her we were on the way and to watch for us.

He instructed that when we arrived, she was to “paddle our butts and send us back home.”Of course, that didn’t happen. Grandmas are always a given for breaking a few rules when the grandkids are involved. She gave us milk and homemade cookies and then drove us back home.

Haystacks provided a kingdom of play for all of us. When we got home from school we would run down the hill, climb over the pole fence to that baled wonderland, and our imaginations were unleashed.

Life was so simple and so innocent. Well except the part about hiding from our little brother. He was somewhat of a pest, so we would often “lose” him in the hay lot.

I realize the opportunity for that kind of childhood is almost gone — now more than ever. I worry about the generations of today where “we” has been replace with the electronic Wii, which requires only interaction with a virtual world. Does life become a game?

Today, we four that lived that simple childhood life playing in hay meadows and fishing in the nearby creek have scattered to a world of corporations, traffic and neighbors next door.

Yet for us all, the smell of an alfalfa field in bloom or the sight a haystack standing tall brings instant recall of those times.

Late yesterday as I drove down a farmland road, I saw three kids playing on and in an old livestock trailer.

It was “after school” time, and it made me smile to know these kids were continuing a long-standing rural tradition of outdoor fun while daylight allowed.

The freedom of living with nature’s laws next to those of God and my parents, created a generation of self-sufficient, dependable, hard-working adults who don’t expect life to be delivered to them.

I’m not sure the Wii generation will be able to say the same.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com. Visit her website at http://julie-carter.com/.

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