There's one good thing about growing up poor - you learn to use your imagination. There were no fancy summer holidays, no cultural jaunts and certainly no electronic babysitters.
We were expected to find our own amusement - and God help the poor dope who had the nerve to even hint he or she was bored. That announcement would have been greeted by a loud, likely unprintable comment accompanied by, if you were really unlucky, a clip on the behind.
And so we learned to put on makeshift plays. One summer I dragged around a cardboard box full of my mother's old clothes to the point where it literally fell apart. Because I was usually the oldest of all the kids in the neighbourhood, I got to be the director. Age does have its privileges. All the other would-be thespians had to wear uncomfortably hot, long dresses over their summer togs; I got to give orders in my cool shorts.
Cinderella was my all time favourite production. And of course if I was particularly annoyed with my mom because she wouldn't let me spend every waking hour of the day in the house reading, one of the ugly stepsisters could always be named "Dorothy" in Mom's honour.
There was the odd time when my dictatorial tendencies would backfire on me. Once I was so wrapped up in giving orders that I walked into a two by four in my friend's basement and gave myself a concussion. Another time I wasn't watching where I was going and walked right into a rusty tin can in a less-than-tidy neighbour's driveway. However, for the most part, I loved my role in amateur theatrics, although to this day my sister next to me has the nerve to call me bossy. Imagine. As I said previously, my absolute favourite thing to do was read. I spent many a summer day at the Dawson Creek and District Public Library. I remember vividly the sad day when I discovered there were no Laura Ingalls Wilder books left for me to read. I'm sure I looked quite the sight, standing in the children's section with tears running down my face with poor Mrs. Coutts, the rotund librarian, trying her level best to calm me down.
While I'm not one of those people who moan about the "good old days" (for the most part I think they're vastly overrated), I do think kids today could do with a little more imagination. Why sit and watch Cinderella when you can be her? I can see the curtain rising now.