Grounded and Such
The pear tree in the front yard was a "secret" water balloon launching site, the half dead tree to the side of the house was the boundary into another dimension (one that had dinosaurs and lava pits)...
When I was five, I had my first lesson on death and the process of being buried when my grandparents attended a funeral. Being five, I didn't understand the occasion and why I wasn't allowed to go for a ride in the car with them.
My closest friends lived across the non-busy street and I went to play with them often. This day wasn't any different. While my grandparents watched a loved one being placed into the ground I, without a care in the world, swung on the swingset, made sand castles in the sand box, and pounded away at the piano keys on the upright piano until I was summoned home.
After lunch, a ham sandwich and glass of Tang, I found my way back outside. Home sat smack in the middle of a 2.5 acre plot. The pear tree in the front yard was a "secret" water balloon launching site, the half dead tree to the side of the house was the boundary into another dimension (one that had dinosaurs and lava pits), and grandad's workshop was the coolest place to build miniature race cars from the scraps of wood he left behind (I even had my very own ball-ping hammer). There was an endless supply of adventures on the acres surrounding home. My favorite exploration was always a month after Easter; a lone unfound colored egg could always be found! I was extra ecstatic if it was a plastic egg with goodies inside!
But the lava pits and wood chunks wouldn't satisfy me this day. I skipped back across the front pasture, across the street, and into the back yard to play with my friends. The only difference between this journey and previous ones, was that I hadn't told anyone where I was off on an adventure too!
It didn't take grandma and grandad long to realize that my white blonde head was bopping up and down on the swingset seventy-five yards away.
There were two ways as a child in which I knew playtime was over; the first was a sharp whistle from grandad (I never did learn to whistle with my fingers) and the second was a flashing of the front porch light—reserved for use after dark.
Hearing the whistle, I jumped off of the swing mid-air and bolted through the gate towards the street. I could see both of them standing on the front porch, arms crossed, and couldn't understand why I had to come home so soon.
Street. Stop. Left, right, left. Run.
I was calmly escorted inside, sat on my grandma's lap and told "if you ever go back across the street without asking, I'm going to ground you. Now, go to your room and think about what you've done." I scurried off and shut the door behind me.
As I sat in my room, under my day bed--playing Barbies--I thought about the lessons I'd learned that day; about death, not behaving, and being grounded. Ten minutes later I emerged and crawled back onto my grandma's lap, laid my head on her chest, and asked, "grandma, if you ground me what will I look like when they dig me up?"
Thinking back, my grandparents never did use grounding as a punishment. Maybe they thought they'd traumatized me enough that day when I was five.