Thursday, August 19, 2010

Crazy kids

My dad was in the military and we were lucky enough to get to travel. We spent 6 years in Naples, Italy and upon returning to the USA, we lived in several different places.

One family tradition (I can call it a tradition if I want to) was that every time my dad had any time off from work, we would pack up the car and off we would go. Now, there were five kids and one of the cool things my parents always did, was that any trip we took, one of us kids would get to bring a friend along. We took turns doing this, and between your last turn and your next turn, it was so much fun deciding which lucky friend would get to go along.

These trips were not just your average ride to a park. We would go camping and fishing and visiting some New place. My parents are both gypsies at heart and thanks to all our many, many trips, the five of us kids are gypsies too. We always had a station wagon and we would pack it up and take off. First we had tents but later we upgraded to having a pop-up tent camper that we towed along. Much later we upgraded to a motorhome. My parents got to sleep in the motorhome and we kids would set up our tents.

I realize now how fortunate I am that my parents loved traveling. As a kid, living in Italy, I saw most of Europe, except the countries behind the Iron Curtain. My dad's military clearance prevented him and our family from going in those areas. We went to castles, museums, parks, art galleries, and on and on. If you watch a movie showing some scene in Europe, whether it is Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Austria, etc, etc. I've probably been there and seen that in person. I've been the Vactican, seen the Statue of David, rode a gondola thru King Leopold's Blue Grotto in his Palace, seen the Louvre, strolled the sands of beaches in Spain, toured the camps in Dachau, hiked in the Alps in Switzerland, skiied on Zuitspikke in Bavaria, and countless other trips. Upon returning to America, we spent my dad's time off camping in nearly every national park, state park, county park and even private parks and we visited all of the lower 48 states. I've now seen every state except Alaska and visited several foreign countries including traveling extensively in both Canada and Mexico. I am soooo lucky.

We kids were good travelers. We knew that my dad would pull over on the side of the road and we would get it (more threats than actual spankings but enough spankings to make us fear the threat) so we rarely fought. Instead we played games. One of our favorite games was something we made up that we called Forfeit.

Now, I know this game is alot like other games, but we kids thought it our own personal invention. The person who is IT, gets to think of a question. Any real question, and whoever is picked to answer the question must do so within 2 minutes (dutifully timed). If they fail to answer or have the wrong answer, they have a Forfeit.

The IT person picks the Forfeit. It can be anything as long as someone doesn't get hurt. Forfeit earned me my first tongue kiss, with my brother Steve's best friend Jay. Forfeit earned my brother John a toe licked clean by my littlest sister Jeanette. Forfeit earned my sister Rebecca many games that she was required to play without quitting. Rebecca was never one to want to play a game for very long, so she would usually quit just when we were most involved. Forfeit earned my Brother Steve many hours of being someone's personal slave. Forfeiet earned my friend Patty the pleasure of being tickled half out of her mind. Forfeit earned us all many fart smellings, snacks being given to others, homework help, chores being turned over to someone else, and a really good use of our imaginations to find the perfect devious Forfeit. I can't even recall how many times we played this game, but I remember hours and hours of car travel time melting away as we wracked our brains for questions and consequences. The hardest part of the game was to become the person who was IT. This was accomplished only by being able to answer a question correctly. We had to actually draw cards, high card wins to be the one who was IT first. Sometimes one person was IT for hours so later we had to institute a new rule that you could only be IT for a total of 5 questions, then IT would be the person who had picked the next highest card.

I can remember clearly the Forfeits, but I can hardly recall the questions. I know sometimes they were ridiculous, like how could I know what my brother John's fifth period teacher's name was? Or what an oscilliscope was for? Or who my sister Jeanette had punched in the arm at recess last week? We did learn many interesting facts that later came in handy when playing Trivial pursuit, so that was a great bonus to Forfeit. PLUS all the gossipy things, like who was the first girl my brother Steve had mooned, or how much Rebecca's friend Andrea's father made, or who had dared my sister Jeanette to eat ants (which she DID!).

One memorable Forfeit game ended up actually giving our family a new tradition. It was near winter time. We lived in Colorado at the time and we were on the way home from visiting my Grandmother who lived in New York. My parents often let us miss school for up to two weeks at a time for our family trips. We had to take along our school work and a favorite Forfeit was having someone do your homework for you.

This was one of those trips, not an actual school break, but a break for us. I think it was at the end of October or the beginning of November. We were nearly home and it began to snow as we were playing our Forfeit game. My brother John was IT. He asked some question, I don't remember what it was. This was a GROUP question, a refinement to our game where the whole group was asked something and if no one could answer the whole group got the Forfeit. Sure enough, none of us could answer whatever question John threw out there. We awaited our Forfeit with dread, hoping we would not have to sniff his armpit or spit shine his shoes or have to re-cover his school books with brown paper bags, or clean his room.

John was inspired by the snowfall. He declared that upon arriving at home, we would have to take off our socks and shoes and run to the top of the hill in our back yard. BAREFOOT IN THE SNOW! The yard was about 1/2 acre and we had to run to the top of the hill and back down in that snow.

We loved it! It became a family tradition for us kids to do that on the first snowfall every year. When my parents went back to Europe after I got married, I rented the house from them. My own children carried on the BAREFOOT IN THE SNOW tradition! They also learned to play Forfeit.

The last time all 5 of us kids were together at my parent's house, it was Christmas time. We 5 and my 3 kids and my brother John's daughter and my brother Steve's son all ran up the hill BAREFOOT IN THE SNOW. We also played a few rounds of Forfeit! I'm ready to teach my grandkids our crazy Forfeit game and I can't wait for the next family reunion at my parent's house so we can go BAREFOOT IN THE SNOW!


  1. Kat, the antics of the large family are very familiar to me. We did not play Forfeit or anything remotely like it as far as I recall. But we certainly had our games and our long car trips passing time without getting the "eye" from Dad which meant we were one step away from his "pulling over."

    And I love how family traditions get started. This is a perfect example of how much fun can be created when we keep our minds open!

    Enjoyed the read!

  2. Blessings come in many forms. I too enjoyed moving though not military related as a child. Your family's game sound quiet fun and rowdy. Much love!


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