Mischief

I saw a Facebook posting this past week from one of my Canadian cousins that put a smile on my face that lasts even as I write this column. The photograph shows Heidi, a two-year-old platinum blonde toddler, playing with her four-month-old brother. A closer inspection of the picture shows stickers all over baby Joshua’s head with Heidi sporting a big smile for her accomplishment. Moments like this are meant to be remembered and with Facebook as the conduit for sharing it is possible to send the moment in time to relatives far and wide.

We should be grateful that this kind of resource wasn’t available when we were children or there would be enough evidence to condemn us to a mental hospital or a penitentiary.

Any time children get together there is a danger for mischief. I recall one of my scoutmasters telling the story of his children playing with cousins in the other room. None of the adults in the adjacent room paid any attention to the kids as they laughed and played, but when things got deathly quiet the adults knew they needed to check on the kids. Sure enough, the kids, ranging in age from three-years-old to five, had unwrapped every Christmas present that had been placed under the tree, and it was weeks before Christmas when it happened.

Rather than scold the children for their mischief the adults agreed that much of the fault laid at their feet for not having more oversight on their activity.

As a teenager I was always working, two jobs before school and two jobs after school. I was making lots of money and the result was that I didn’t necessarily account for the money I was earning. At any point in time I could have several hundred dollars sitting around my bedroom. One afternoon two of my younger brothers, ages ten and eleven, decided that they wanted new BB guns.  Not having the resources to purchase them wasn’t a problem because they simply broke into my room and helped themselves to my spare change.

Their larceny might never have been discovered if they weren’t a little too reckless with their purchases. They had gone down to the Al’s Sporting Goods store and had purchased some pretty powerful pellet guns, certainly far too powerful for their ages and definitely too powerful to go unnoticed by our mother. When she inquired about the origin of the money to purchase these guns they came clean about where they had found my extra pocket change. She marched them down to the store, returned the guns, and the money was returned to me. I was encouraged to do a better job of accounting for my earnings so as not to tempt these two who had been helping themselves to my pocket change for months.

 These two brothers were good at keeping their activities secret.  After our father passed away I was given all the firearms he had kept locked up in a filing cabinet all the years I lived at home. Several of these pistols had very little use and were in excellent condition. On rare occasion our father would pull them out of storage and let us hold them, keeping our curiosity from getting the best of us. It always seemed to satisfy our need to see them.

What I didn’t know back then is that these two mischief makers spent their youth playing with these firearms. They never asked to see them because they knew where the key to the file cabinet was kept. They had access to them any time they wanted – a fact that I learned years after I had inherited them. I don’t think our parents had any clue as to what was going on or they would have moved the key or better, found a new place to store these handguns.

My final story of mischief will attest to something of a confessional. Sometime around age ten or eleven my best friend Ronald and I stumbled onto a couple of old Playboy magazines in his father’s office. They were stored in a filing cabinet, interspersed among the miscellaneous files about area geology. Ron’s father was a geologist at Hill Air Force Base. For the life of me I don’t know how we discovered these magazines amongst all the technical data contained in the filing cabinets, but we did, and once we knew they were there it was difficult not to retrieve them on occasion.

One afternoon we decided to get the magazines to satisfy our youthful curiosity. As we perused the pages in Ron’s room we heard his dad open the door of his home office. I was terrified that the gig was up and that Ron’s dad was about to knock on his bedroom door and bust us. When I expressed this concern to my friend he assured me that all was well. “What’s he going to do, knock on my door and ask for us to return his Playboy magazines?” Ron was right, of course, it simply wouldn’t go down that way. When the coast was clear we returned the magazines to their rightful place and were a little more cautious not to get them out while his dad was home.

What would life be if it were it not for a little mischief making?

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