City kids and country kids

In the distant past of my teaching days, I remember there was a series of books called “City Kids” and “Country Kids”.


Experiencing teaching in both areas I couldn’t help feeling that the “country kids” at that time appeared to be more grounded and appreciated daily living in a more profound way. Often the families were struggling financially but there was so much joy shared over things that some of us take for granted.


One family I will never forget invited a colleague and myself for dinner. There were three young boys in the family and as they excitedly met us at the gate, they declared that because we were coming to dinner their mother had cooked roast chicken.

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The location was mid Western Queensland and drought had dried up pastures and trying to make ends meet was a daily reality. The boys insisted on showing us around the property. They particularly wanted us to see their crocodile. Apparently many years ago there had been a flood and somehow a large salt water crocodile had found its way across the desert and lodged itself into an enormous dam on the property.


As we looked across the dam we did indeed see two large eyes protruding out of the very large head of what was unmistakably a crocodile. It began to move towards us and my instinct was to run as fast as I could but the smallest little fellow told me that it was okay. The trick was to wait until the creature reached a large tree in the middle of the dam… and then he said, “We run like hell!” … and run like hell we did.

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As we sat on upturned kerosene tins around the table that evening, eating our roast chicken off cracked china plates, we laughed and listened to the interesting anecdotes being shared between people who were experiencing tough times but who were still able to see humour and beauty in the simplest of things. The memory still makes me smile and I wonder what kind of men my three young charges became.


I also wonder what the reality might be for them today in this technological world. Would there be the banter around the table as there was then? I have learned to keep my mouth shut as my own lovely grandchildren are constantly glued to their iPhones and iPads. We still enjoy some friendly banter but it is constantly interrupted by important texts to be replied to and the flow of conversation can become stilted.


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I think back to my own childhood when our parents despaired of our generation and what would become of us and so I try not to make judgements and just put out positive thoughts that these lovely young people will grow into caring, responsible adults and that somehow the technology they so freely use will be of use to them in a positive way.


Still I can’t help feeling that they would not quite understand the joyful faces of those boys sitting around the table enjoying their treat of roast chicken.


Where you a city kid or country kid? What are some great memories you have of growing up?


image: Dereck Bradley