Raising weird kids 

Published 12:12 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

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On the morning of New Year’s Eve, I was wading waist-deep through a swamp with a retriever following close behind. When we got to our hunting spot, the retriever, Sage, hopped up into the dog stand and watched as I set out decoys. After unloading more gear and cased guns out of the floating sled, I told Sage to stay as I walked back to get another load. Walking back, I saw a light at the entry point to the swamp and heard a laugh. At that point, I realized I was raising weird kids. 

This spot we were hunting had two spots for two groups to hunt. One group was a father and two sons who needed guidance to their blind because it was their first time. While my buddy took them to their spot, I started to get our spot ready. I loaded up the floating sled with gear, gave a flashlight to my son, and told them I would be back in a bit to take them to our blind. 

What seemed like a normal request from my point of view would go against many parent’s idea of good modern parenting. I can only imagine the questions they would ask. 

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“You just left your kids in the dark?” Well, they had a flashlight. 

“Aren’t there wild animals?” Yes, but they had a dog with them. 

“How do you know they will be safe?” Spending time in this area, there are very few things that will cause permanent harm in this swamp. Can you get cold? Absolutely. Hypothermic? I’ve seen it and the kid I saw get mild hypothermia there a few years ago is chomping at the bit to get into the same swamp every weekend to duck hunt.

Walking back to my buddy’s kid and my two children, I witnessed these weird kids laughing at a joke and trying to push down a small dead tree in the dark.  These three kids, aged seven through 12 were laughing in the middle of a swamp that has many actual creatures to be scared of and a multitude of imagined creatures to fear. 

The night before these same kids were shining their flashlights in the dark, following blood trails for deer their parents had shot. What has become normal in our family is, no doubt, weird for the majority. 

The afternoon of New Year’s Eve, we ate venison burgers and told stories about the morning hunt. The kids laughed about jokes we told in the blind and what the dogs did during the hunt. At no point did they complain about being left alone in a cold, dark swamp. 

These kids are weird, but as I watched them shoot their Red Ryder BB guns at soda cans for the next hour, I couldn’t be more proud. The world needs more weird kids like these. 

Happy kids after a cold hunt in a swamp. (Photo by Will Glenn)