doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Staying home

In my childhood home, there was a hard and fast rule.

If you’re too sick to go to school, you’re too sick to do anything but stay in bed and get better…

I’m not sure that was the exact wording in the threat but it’s close enough. It sent two strong messages.

  • going to school is important because the alternative was tough
  • I’d go to school even when I knew I wasn’t 100% because staying at home was so boring

So, I started thinking about this today.

Right now, I’m sitting at my desk with my internet connected computer with a music channel streaming from our satellite television service – Van Morrison is on right now.

Would I have been able to do this when I was a kid?

Of course, not.

So, what I would have been able to do back in the day…

  • make my bed – I never understood the concept of making it and then going back to sleep some hours later
  • fight with my brother – when we got separate bedrooms, they were in our attic. There was one set of stairs up that went into my room and he’d have to go through mine to get to his. That was the setting for many a brawl. Pick a reason, any reason
  • watch television – we used to get three channels although Channel 8 and 10 were both CBC stations and largely repeated themselves except for the news
  • play games – we had a well stocked games cupboard – Scrabble, Yahtzee, Parcheesi, Snakes and Ladder, and many decks of playing cards for Bridge, Yahtzee, King’s Corners, Solitaire and more
  • do jigsaw puzzles – we had a formal dining table that really was a catch-all between dinners with company and being set up for an ongoing jigsaw
  • cut the lawn – I’m sure that this would have been the one activity that would break the “you can’t go outside” rule. It was the only activity that made me regret having a double-sized lot – it took a long time cutting by pushing a mower
  • read – we always had a couple of library books, whatever we brought home from school, and comic books to supplement our paperback collection
  • clean the basement – before we had a shed in the back yard, seasonal things used to get stored there and there always seemed to be a better way of organizing things
  • call friends – if they happened to be home as well. I’m struck with how networking and community was synchronous back then. When we weren’t riding bikes, playing baseball or hockey, or other things, there was no connection whatsoever with them. I don’t recall knowing anyone’s phone number since I’d just hop on my bike and go over to see if they were home
  • do homework – there always seemed to be a science project on the go or mathematics problems to work at
  • play with the dog – no matter how things were, Peter was always there to play with. Yes, my dog’s name was Peter Peterson

My dairy farm wife pointed out that it could have been worse. You can’t get sick on a farm. Cows still needed to be milked, stalls cleaned, straw spread, cattle fed, …

These days, it’s easy to go stir crazy. Writing this post, it reminds me that it could be worse. far worse.

How were your “stay at home” days when you were a kid? Did I miss something that you did to recuperate? If nothing else, this reminds me of why I enjoyed school so much – there were people there and the big people were always coming up with things for us to do.


6 responses to “Staying home”

  1. Doug, my parents had the same rules as yours. I think this is why I rarely missed school. With social media and services like Zoom and FaceTime now, at least our current staying home reality involves other ways to connect. I can’t wait for this to be over, but in the meantime, I’m also aware that staying at home could be a whole lot worse.



  2. The one thing that’s missing though is that, at the time, we didn’t know all of the luxuries that we would have in 2020. What we had available at the time was our reality! They do seem primitive though looking backward with today’s lens. Thanks for the comment.


  3. Hi Doug!

    We had the same rules in our house too, and as kids we did most of what you mentioned – and built lots of forts using chairs and blankets : )

    Stay healthy,


  4. […] Staying home – doug — off the record […]


  5. I don’t remember staying home! My mom worked. I know my grandma had to leave work to come get me once. And once I was old enough to stay home alone I did a few times. But I missed school so I didn’t even fake sick to have a day off! It would have been a full day of game shows and talk shows.


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