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Growing Up Country {Blog Series} Part 3: Night Games

We all have a story. None of them are perfect. However, it’s truly the imperfection that makes all of our stories so beautiful.

Creating and cherishing memories is absolutely so special. Reliving memories from my childhood, especially the craziest ones, brings me the greatest joy. The innocence and adventure of childhood is unlike any other. As I laugh, smile, and shake my head at the memories I have growing up in the country, on a farm, with three older brothers, it reminds me to always try to live in the moment, smile, and love the life you’ve been given. It makes my heart happy to know my kids will grow up together and build their own wonderful, exciting memories in the country as well.

When I was in kindergarten, my mom, brother, and I moved in with my stepdad, who lived on a farm and had two boys of his own. Little did I know, I’d be in for the biggest adventure of my life...and looking back, I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Here’s Part 3 in my series “Growing up Country.” If you missed my other stories, you can check them out here: Part 1: The Epic Apple War

Part 2: Only In the Cow Pond [The Bike Adventure]

I hope you enjoy some of my favorite, crazy stories from growing up as a country girl.

Growing Up Country

Part 3: Night Games

Supper was finished. My brothers were done picking on me, for now at least (example A: “Amber, put my dishes away otherwise you love [insert boy name in my class here]!”...yes, it got me every time...dangit!). The sun was starting to set. I knew what that meant. It was time to head upstairs to trade in my hypercolor t-shirt for any dark clothes I could find.

A few minutes later, my three brothers and I came back downstairs, complete in black sweatpants and sweatshirts. We were ready. David threw on a black hat as we headed out the door.

Once it was completely dark out, we trekked outside and gathered in our gravel driveway in front of our garage door. What game would we play first? Our favorites varied between “7 steps,” “Ghost in the Graveyard,” and “Kick the Can.” Being the youngest out there in the dark, I now admit I would sometimes be afraid when we played Ghost in the Graveyard. Of course I never told that to my brothers at the time!

Tonight, David grabbed an old tin can and set it in front of our garage door. Kick the can it is! My brother, Brad, was “it” first.

We had 60 seconds to scramble and find places to hide around our country yard. We had lots of yard with some bordering trees. Our backyard also connected to our corn field on one side and a neighbor’s yard on the other. The side of the house had many lined trees and some flower beds. Our front yard was pretty open with ditches right before the gravel road.

My brother started counting, and Brad (oldest stepbrother), David, and I split up running in three different directions.

Time-out for game rules: If you’ve never played Kick the Can, you have one person who is “it” who searches for the other people hiding. You set up a can in a designated home base. The it person counts to an agreed upon number while the others scramble and hide. From there, the it person, once spotting someone hiding, yells out “I see [insert name] running across the backyard by the hay field!” (or wherever they see them, obviously). Once that’s yelled, the it person, and the person caught, run as fast as they can back to home base. If the it person kicks the can first, the person caught is stuck there (kind of like in jail). If the person caught kicks it first, they are free (and any jail members are free to go as well). The it person needs to catch everyone else before a new person becomes “it!”

Alright - back to the game. My brother was counting and we were running to hide. I found the apple tree (yes, lots of good memories with that tree - not just the Epic Apple War!). In my black sweats, I crouched behind the apple tree and silently waited.

After my brother was done counting he set off around the front of the house to begin his search. I realized it was only a matter of time until he’d come around the side of the house and spot me by the tree. I needed a game plan!

All of a sudden I heard my brother yelling, “I see Brad in the front yard by the ditch and the tree line!” I quickly heard some commotion as both my brother and my oldest stepbrother began sprinting towards the garage to kick the can. Now was my chance to find a better hiding place! My brother was distracted!

I got out from behind the apple tree and sprinted in the dark wide open backyard. I made it halfway across and slid quickly behind our tree fort. I squinted and up ahead I thought I saw David running towards our backyard as well. I made the decision to join up with him. David always had the MacGyver moves and best hiding spots!

As I sprinted towards David I heard the can up at our house get kicked over. My brother kicked it first! That meant my oldest stepbrother was in “jail.” Now, in addition to hiding, as I approached David we locked eyes, and without words knew this meant we now also had to try to sneak up on my brother to kick the can to get Brad free.

Uh oh. I looked up. My brother began coming down the backyard in search for us. He was heading our direction! Quiet and swift, David dove into the cornfield that lined our house (please keep in mind the corn was probably only 1 foot tall at this point). I didn’t even think, I dove in after him. We began to slowly inch our way towards the side of the house in an army crawl. David first, with me tailing behind. We used the first row of corn to stay low and crawl our way further from my brother who was fast approaching.

We made it all the way around to the side of the house to the front yard and David jumped up from the cornfield and popped behind another tree. Of course I quickly did the same. We were unstoppable! Or so I thought, feeling all sneaky and cool following David’s lead.

David gave me the look. I knew he was now going to take off towards the can to try to free Brad. It was time to make a bold move. Off David went!

All of a sudden my brother, out of nowhere yelled, “I see David running across the front yard from the cornfield/treeline! And I see Amber by the cornfield and trees in the front yard!”

No!!! We were caught! David began sprinting even faster towards the old tin can. I was now running quickly after him. My brother and David were neck and neck. Who was going to get there first?!

My brother beat out David by one second! He quickly set the can back up and kicked it again for me. We were all caught! This meant my oldest stepbrother Brad was now it.

We all took a minute or two to regroup and have a quick debriefing (“How did you see us there?! We were so quiet! Brad, where did you hide?”). After that, Brad started counting. The three of us were off again in the pitch black night to find spots to hide.

And so the game continued! This time, I was caught first. Brad beat me to the can, so there I was, in “jail” hoping I would get free. I didn’t want to be it next!

After a while, I was still the only one found. Brad was looking all over, but David and my brother were sneaky! All of a sudden, I saw Brad head to the shed. Was it possible they were hiding in the shed?

The next thing I knew, headlights came on and an engine roared. Out came Brad from the shed on the fourwheeler! What was he doing? This wasn’t in the rules!

I silently watched from the driveway, as Brad began to drive around the yard in search for David and my brother. I quickly saw both of them pop up from the front ditch as the headlights shone on them. I heard yelling, “Brad! You can’t do that! You’re cheating!!” Brad continued to drive the fourwheeler. It was now apparently a cat and mouse game :)

After a few minutes of my brothers running as fast as they could away from the fourwheeler, they all made it back to the can. I listened as my three brothers talked about the rules of the game, and watched my oldest stepbrother Brad just smirk and laugh while my brother and David were relentless in saying he went against the rules and how could he have gotten out the fourwheeler! Well - after that interesting twist to the game, we decided to call it a night!

Brad put the fourwheeler away, as I put the old tin can back in the garage. We all trudged back into the house, taking one last peak at the dark night sky as we left our sneakers and black hats by the garage door.

And that was a typical weekend of Night Games with my brothers; oh what crazy fun we had!

I can’t wait to share with you the next blog post in the series, “Part 4: The Tree Fort” from Growing Up Country!


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l o c a t i o n 
Wausau + Marshfield, Wisconsin 
always willing to travel