Kids keep secrets from their parents. Why is this? Perhaps to stay out of trouble. Such an incident was the case when as a kid I was sleigh riding on Pall’s hill, just a short distance from my home. It was a great night for sledding, no plows had touched the road so the snow was well packed and a layer of ice gave the gang of kids gathering there just the speed they desired. I was at the bottom of the hill and a sled piled with three boys lying atop each other was speeding toward me when for some reason I stood in their way expecting them to turn and miss me. But they didn’t! The next thing I remember was waking up inside a neighbor’s house. The kids gathered around me, looked relieved that, after all, I was alive. The next words out of their mouths came this request, “Don’t tell your parents, promise?”. And I didn’t. Why? It was a secret that kept me out of trouble with my parents and they never found out. I was sure they wouldn’t have been sympathetic, but critical of my actions. So a secret it remained.
Our kids were guilty of the same thing, (maybe it was in their genes) as parents we found out, but not until after they left home. While jumping in the hay mows in the barn, our third son fell to the floor below and was knocked unconscious. He and his brothers decided it was best not to tell their parents. Our number four son, (yes, we have four of them) came home one day to report that while riding down through the orchard he ran into a tree and bent his bicycle. We swallowed this story, only to find out, years later, that he had been struck by a car and thrown up on the hood of the vehicle. I’m sure many of you shake your heads as you remember your kids’ childhoods and wonder how they, and you, survived them.
My husband’s sleigh riding experiences remain memorable in his mind. There were no accidents to report, but plenty of near misses as he and his friends built ramps and rode toboggans. He still has fond memories of sledding with his “Flexible Flyer,” a Christmas present which he still has. It has to be seventy years old now and we wondered if they were still being built and what the sled’s worth might be.
Some history on the Flexible Flyer helped us come to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth a great deal. One estimate was from $20 to $170 depending on it’s condition. It’s value is stacked up in the memories it holds. Samuel Leeds Allen patented the steel runner sled in 1889, by 1915 around 120,000 sleds were sold, 2000 of them in one day. It was the first steerable sled. Which brings to mind that If the sled that hit me was steerable the riders surely didn’t know it.
Burl, that’s my husband’s name, thinks the Flexible Flyer would be the ideal gift for kids today, but sadly that won’t happen. The company changed hands a number of times down through the years. In 1993 production was moved to China and in 1999 the sleds ceased being made.
Our sledding experiences have also ceased. The last time I went sleigh riding was with one of my grandchildren and that was in a round, plastic saucer. Sorry, but this is no comparison to the rides on a Flexible Flyer, as it glided gracefully over the snow covered hillsides, with it steering mechanism working like a charm.
So why do kids keep secrets from their parents? Shouldn’t they be afraid of the consequences if they don’t tell their parents? That may be the case with some kids but it wasn’t with me and my kids. The plan was to keep the secret long enough and it wouldn’t matter.