Chasing Squirrels

My parents frequently took my sister and I to Griffith Park, post tantrum. In this manner, we learned crying, whining and screaming resulted in getting access to what we wanted. Berrinches were common in our house. Either my parents liked it or they didn’t know how to teach us appropriate ways to gain access to the activities we wanted to partake in. Once we got to Griffith Park, we rode the ponies. After riding the ponies we went to the carousel. After the carousel we laid on the grass and stared at the clouds. On days with clear blue skies we claimed clouds looked like puppies or gremlins or Gizmo or butterflies or dragons or whales or rainbows or ships from Peter Pan or monster slime blobs with three eyeballs like the one in “Big Trouble in Little China.”

After not being able to withstand the spikey itchiness from the grass, we rolled down the hill like “rollie pollies.” We giggled and laughed at how deliriously dizzy we felt. As we walked up the hill to do it again, we would pick up dandelions and blow them out. We ran after dandelions, blowing them out and watching the florets be blown away by the wind had a mesmerizing effect. To me, it’s comparable to the hypnotizing effect of Baby Einstein videos but there’s nothing as vivid as the experience of watching something happen in real time, naturally.

Next, we stared at squirrels. We watched them nibble on nuts. We watched them scurry up trees and across tree braches. We chased the squirrels. The idea was motivated by a hope to catch one and make it our puppy. But one day, we saw another little boy chase squirrels too. The squirrel didn’t like it. The boy got too close, was bitten by the squirrel and ran away crying. After that day we decided chasing squirrels was bad.

We were too young to understand the necessary mutual respect for all living creatures. We hadn’t seen the Jungle Book or the Lion King, yet, at best we were familiar with Snow White and the concept of never placing trust in an old witch. However, that day, through natural contingencies of reinforcement and punishment we were reminded not to be space invaders. Being a space invader resulted in peligroooooo.

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