December 17, 2018

Home Grown Hot Dogs!

Aren’t kids neat? Their minds are open and, like a sponge, ready to soak up new knowledge and experience. With the right combination of sincerity, craft and cunning, we older guys can turn this quality into a nifty game that’s fun for all and will provide fond memories in years to come.

Please understand, I’m not advocating lying or trying to warp innocent young minds (believe me, I know the burden of a warped mind). Rather, I’m talking about having some fun with flights of fancy that can help kids exercise their minds. Allow me to illustrate.

I know a guy who showed his grandchildren how to grow hot dogs. One day he took them out to the garden, cut up a hot dog into little pieces and carefully planted these hot dog seeds in rich fertile soil. The next time the grandkids came to visit, Grandpa took them out to check the garden. Lo and behold, where they had planted the hot dog seeds, there were little Vienna sausages!

Carefully, they weeded the patch, watered it and dreamed of the next visit. Sure enough, when they visited the garden a few days later, the sausages had grown to little smoky links! The next visit to Grandpa’s garden paid off with a fine crop of juicy hot dogs ready for the grill. Ever the teacher, Grandpa allowed them to pick a few to take into the house, wash off and cook for lunch, but he also insisted they leave some to continue to grow.

By now I’m sure you’ve guessed that on the kids’ next visit, they were greeted with some fine large sausages. After harvesting some and leaving some, they were rewarded with even larger sausages the next time. So it went, on and on until the end of the growing season when they marched triumphantly home with the grand prize of the garden–a five pound Genoa salami, fresh picked and bursting with home-grown goodness!

Thanks to the interest of a concerned adult, these kids have had an experience they’ll remember all their lives, and have learned that looking at the world from a different point of view can be fun and rewarding. Everything in moderation, of course. There’s no benefit in being hauled off to the looney bin. By the way, this coming growing season, I’m told Grandpa is going to show the kids how to grow spark plugs.

Sometimes these fantasy games can serve a practical purpose. When my kids were young, my wife and I kept a bottle of “Green Formula” on the kitchen window sill. Green Formula is pretty easy stuff to make. Just dissolve some sugar in water and add green food coloring. Put it in a small bottle–ours was shaped like a clown–and keep it handy for the inevitable childhood disaster. When one of your kids runs screaming into the house in a flood of tears from the latest bump or bruise, bring out the Green Formula with much fanfare and flourish explaining that you’ve been saving this “SPECIAL MAGIC GREEN FORMULA” for just such an emergency.

Muster up as much ceremony and drama as you can while you solemnly pour out a few drops of the SPECIAL MAGIC GREEN FORMULA onto the hurt spot and then (this is crucial to the magic) have the injured child immediately drink the rest of the Green Formula from the bottle, not leaving a drop! Then and only then will the pain magically disappear! I guarantee that Green Formula will work every time it’s properly applied.

I’ve had only two Green Formula failures, both of which were my fault. The first time I reached for the salt instead of sugar when mixing the formula. BIG OOPS!

The second time, I saw my screaming kid running toward the house so, when he arrived, I was prepared. I looked at his wrist, saw that it had been scratched, and was all ready to administer the magic juice when he shouted, “NO!” as he pointed to a place further up on his forearm where the bone had decided to assume a very unnatural angle.

It dawned on me that a broken arm was probably beyond the powers of my old reliable Green Formula, so this one should probably go to the hospital. Over the next several weeks, my son took advantage of several opportunities to humiliate me when he asked if I thought it would do any good to smash a bottle or two of Green Formula over his cast.

These two examples of how to have fun spoofing kids are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. Kids are so curious and trusting, the sky’s the limit when dreaming up stuff like this.

Some of you guys will probably flashback a memory or two as I recount some adventures from summer camp. Remember the snipe hunt? How about the search for white lampblack, a left-handed skyhook, a smoke shifter or a horse wrench? More on all these later. Enjoy the memories.

See ya around,

BUCK

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