There’s a lot of things you learn as a kid. How to cross the street. How to stop, drop, and roll. How to wander the woods without getting eaten by local wildlife even though you are a smol and tasty toddler.
Alright. Maybe that last one is not incredibly common. Possibly this happened mostly to me and my cousins.
You see, me and said cousins are fourth-generation Colorado natives from a big old Colorado family. This means things like having more family members than you can count (and seeing all of them every. single. holiday.), a family grape-vine that puts social media to shame, and a do-it-yourself attitude that applies to every family member including the children. For some reason, in our family, this also usually means cousins come in sets of threes age wise. Annabella, Jessica, and David. Myself, John, and Will. Anna, Sebastian, and Edwin.
Now, me, John, and Will were a rambunctious bunch from the moments we were born. A lot of this energy got let out at the family cabin up in the Rocky Mountains, a place used by the whole family. The functions of this place have always had a fairly well defined divide between what the kids get up to and what the parents get up to. And by that I mean the parents take advantage of doing nothing and the kids run around shrieking and creating elaborate stories about the old mines.
But no doing-nothing parent wants to deal with shrieking children. So what did they do with me, John, and Will? Why, they sent us outside, of course! Into the forest. With no supervision. In case you weren’t aware, the forest is where bears live. And, more importantly, where mountain lions live. Both being the sort of furry critters that populate the specific forests around the family cabin and have the potential to think toddlers are a yummy snack.
But all was well! We may have been smol and tasty toddlers, but the adults gave us whistles! More specifically, there was a peg on the wall inside the cabin with a collection of silver whistles on yellow cords which we were required to take with us before we ventured outside. Clearly, nothing can go wrong as long as you have a whistle. You can blow it and scare away all the critters that think you might be a tasty snack! Probably. Maybe. If you’re paying attention and actually see the critters, which is honestly a lot to ask a child who is attempting to map the creek by the cabin entirely on her own.
Really, it’s probably a miracle any of us made it to adulthood.
***Names of family members changed, just in case.