My sister the superstar whom I barely ever saw was on “the pony crew”. This meant she was in a select group of older kids who got to help care for horses.
She was so awesome. She was gorgeous and smart. She was my idol. Once in a while she would come by our bus with a horse and let me and Sky sit on it. I was a little afraid to be up so high but my brother, even though he was still not more than 2, just loved it. He would sit up there as long as he could smiling ear to ear.
Sky was cute and chubby. I loved him. I wanted to help him and protect him. It seemed like he was always getting into mischeif. If he got left alone it seemed like he would always do something to get in trouble. I was the kind of kid that always told the truth even if I knew I’d get in trouble. Lying seemed too hard and my mom always said that you’ll get in less trouble if you tell the truth. The other kids could do it just fine but if I tried I felt like I was overheating and my head was definitely going to explode right off my shoulders. Sky trusted me and would admit stuff to me that he wouldn’t admit to the grownups. Like naughty stuff he’d done. I’d run and tell our mom. I thought I was helping him. Since he wouldn’t tell the truth, I’d do it for him. Then he’d get spanked and I’d feel really bad. I’d get spanked sometimes too. It wasn’t called “spanked” though. It was called “warming your butt”. Deborah would say, “Okay, pull down your pants and get over my knee, I’m going to warm your butt”. I’d plead for mercy but she’d just say “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you”. I had no idea how that made any sense. Over her knee, with my butt exposed I’d reach around trying to protect myself with my hands desperately repeating “I’ll be good, I’ll be good!” I don’t remember anything I did to get my butt warmed except the time another mom was lecturing me about something which I thought was totally unfair because she wouldn’t listen to my side of the story. So I put my fingers in my ears and went “lalalala”. My mom came out and saw me doing that and swung me right over her lap and gave it to me good.
One time Sky was left up in the bus by himself because he was still sleeping when we went to the house for breakfast. There were always matches around because we used kerosene lanterns for light. We got back up to the bus and the curtains were on fire. Sky was probably about 3 years old but figured out how to light the matches. He got spanked and stashed on the hood of the bus. He had to stay up there for a very long time. I felt sorry for him. I went to visit him and he crawled over on his feet and hands to the edge of the hood, like a chubby flesh crab wearing only a diaper shell, smiling at me. I didn’t think he had any clue what he had done or that he was being punished. I was afraid he might fall but he didn’t. He somehow kept himself entertained stuck up on the hood of the bus for hours.
We got babysat at different houses around the neighborhood. Sometimes we got babysat at this really big house down the hill overlooking the meadow. It was called Honey Base. One day at Honey Base I was feeling so elated because I had just finished the most beautiful picture I’d ever drawn of a rainbow with lots of hearts raining from the sky. I was so pleased but suddenly my happiness was shattered when I saw my little brother getting spanked. The grownup had pulled his pants down and was spanking him in front of all the other children. I was so embarrassed for him. I don’t know what he did.
My favorite place to get babysat was just a short walk down the road or through the woods past lots of school bus dwellings. The reason I liked it so much was because they had a huge tree growing straight up through the floor and out of the ceiling in their bathroom. We would play in there as it was more like a treehouse than a bathroom (our bathrooms didn’t have toilets). I thought it was the neatest thing ever.