Reflections: NO Quitting!

The Byrne Sisters

As a kid I could hardly wait to flip the calendar to June – lazy days of freedom lay ahead. Lemonade stands with nickels and dimes rolling in, hours of jump rope contests, hopscotch competitions, marble wars and bike rides until the street lights would come on.  My sisters and I would sit in bed, giggling and talking, deciding the best way to spend the next day. Which activity should take priority? Who would get the jump rope with the best handles? Did we have enough chalk for a really big hopscotch pattern on the driveway? Had mom bought Kool-Aid or lemonade for us to sell?  We’d chatter until our snickering gave us away and a stern “Girls, get to sleep!” caused us to finally settle in for the night.

There were, however, two unforeseen flaws in our perfect summer plans. Chores and boredom. I don’t recall the chores assigned to either of my sisters, but I clearly remember mine. Daddy gave me an old dull-bladed knife, actually an old butter knife, and sent me outside to rid our entire length of sidewalk cracks of weeds. Holy cow! Did he know how much sidewalk we had and how many weeds were growing in all those cracks? Figuring about 3 sidewalk squares per day,  I’d probably finish when I was 50!

The Byrne Pet Parade
Boredom came after about a week of playing the same games, especially when my older sister bailed to be with her friends. That’s when IT happened. My friend Maria and I came up with the most wonderful idea. We would create a club. Not just any club. It would be a nature club. We would call it Explorers Of Nature! My deftness with the butter knife became almost magical as I attacked the sidewalk weeds with a newfound energy.  Maria and I had a club to manage! As the older and “so-much-wiser” of the group, we took weekly turns being President and Vice President. My little sister, Barbie was relegated as “Member”.  She wasn’t too happy about this, especially since she was given all the duties we didn’t want, such as sweeping the section of the basement where meetings would be held, serving us our Kool-Aid and being last in line when we went on nature hikes. Her grumbling caused us as Officers to come up with our only E.O.N. rule – “Members can only quit 2 times in each meeting!” Barb was not happy, but agreed.  I was President the week of the animal parade and got to be first in line. Barbie had to follow me.

It was quite a summer.  With our green and white E.O.N. flag on a stick and armed with my trusty butter knife, the three of us spent many long hours roaming through fields, among trees and backyards investigating bird nests, anthills, bugs and we even found an old buried book about Abraham Lincoln. Little Barbie trudged along behind, never quitting, even when we’d sneak ahead of her.  To be honest, she was the bravest one when it came to digging anything up or daring to touch anything.  I learned a lot from her even then.

My sisters and I are only able to get together about once a year now. But when we do we still stay up late giggling and sharing about when we were kids. And we still argue about who got the jump rope with the best handles most of the time (it was Lynda). I still complain about having had to dig sidewalk weeds. And dear Barb always reminds me of her plight as the only member of the E.O.N. club. But amidst that laughter the three of us grow quiet. For you see, I not only learned about bravery from my little sister on those hikes, I also saw her spirit that wouldn’t quit.  That “No Quitting” spirit is still remarkably alive in her today.

The precious memories of childhood games, dreams, even chores have a way of staying with you for the rest of your life. This month we are focusing on ways you can experience outdoor joy with your children as you play hopscotch, jump rope, or play a game of marbles. Perhaps you may even be inspired to create your own chapter of the Explorers Of Nature club! Rip the calendar page off – it’s June!

Mary Byrne Kline



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