There were a lot of bad things about not having parents. As a kid, I grew up sad and scarred for not having them at home on a daily basis. I saw that the kids with parents were made to sit still and eat. They were taught to read and write, and had chores to do.
Nobody ever made me eat. I had to get to the table fast before my other siblings arrived. We all wanted to eat as much as we could because we knew that we would have to wait until the next meal to eat again, which always seemed like an eternity!
There were some good things about my parent-less childhood too: one of them was the total lack of supervision when I was out on adventures. One of these adventures took me out to sea, at 8 years old, alone.
It was at Rancho La Joya, outside of Caborca, Mexico where me and 20 or so of my siblings lived in hiding from people who wanted to kidnap us and others who wanted to take us to foster homes. Once in a while one of the adults would pack us all up in the back of a pick-up and drive us a couple of miles to the beach. We were always excited to go! We took food, water & dogs and played all day in the sand collecting sea shells and building enormous sand castles. We also swam quite a lot in the sea. Sometimes a couple of us would take large, black inner tubes, put one arm over it and swim away from the shore about 50 meters, then sit on top of it and let the waves bring us back. After I did this a few times, I decided to try the next level up–no inner tube.
I waded through the shallow part and then dove into the water. Pretending to be a dolphin, I did my best to “jump” the waves as they were coming at me. This was so exciting! I swam and “jumped” waves here and there and kept going. I was so lost in my wave jumping that I never thought to look back and see how far I had gone, then when I finally turned around I could see people on the shore playing like usual. I decided to go even farther out, this time until I could barely see anyone. The water felt so nice!
Finally, when I decided to head back to shore, I did so floating on my back, turning around every now and then to make sure I was going in the right direction. The waves carried me up and down, up and down, and brought me back to shore about a kilometer down from where I had originally started. This was great, for there were beautiful shells to collect on my way back.
When I came back everything was like usual: Nobody noticed my absence. Nobody asked me questions. When I told the story, it was not a big deal. But the disinterest of others did nothing to take the excitement out of my belly. Being that far from safety was exhilarating, and I knew I would do it again next time ~ and I did.
Many years later in Florida I swam out away from shore, hoping to get as far as I could before anyone freaked out. Then the lifeguards blew their whistles and signaled for me to come back. As I swam back obediently, I thought to myself “I’m in the wrong country!”.