I once was asked if I could invent something what it would be. I gave it some thought and then realized I may have actually already invented something even though someone else was wise enough to patent and market it—I was, after all, only nine years old.
I grew up on an island; Okinawa, Japan, from age four. The island was a vast playground for my imagination. The kids I played with joined me and my older sister in many mischiefs which none of our parents knew of. We climbed the rocky terrain that formed the cliffs near our home. We flattened cardboard boxes and slid down an enormous grassy hillside that lead to the neighborhood park. We roamed through a massive underground cave system formed by volcanoes which ran the span of the entire island. We played hide-and-seek in the “Booney Weeds” which were large fields of tall thick wild grasses that grew six feet high or better. The Booney’s, as we lovingly called them, were so dense that two people could stand three inches apart and never know they had company.
Just before the monsoon’s hit the island we experienced intense winds and rain. I remember grabbing my stylish “Bubble Umbrella”(do you remember those?) and playing in those winds. My friend Jackie and I played Mary Poppins by running as fast as we could with the wind and allowing it to gush up underneath my bubble umbrella and lift us off the ground. Both of us were very light weight, so the wind gushes usually carried us five to ten feet distance before landing us delicately onto the road again. We really did feel as though we were flying.
One of my favorite memories was during a massive rain we joined many of the other neighborhood kids in clogging up the cul-de-sac drain. From the road to the curb top was about three feet deep, so by clogging the drain we were able to form a mini wading pool which in diameter fit about ten kids. Of course that one didn’t last long since our parents could see what we were up to and had us remove the cardboard to allow the rain water to drain. It was fun while it lasted though.
We used to purchase “pencil Boxes” from the Japanese stores which had secret compartments to stash things. Once my sister decided to catch some June bugs (which of course I was deathly afraid of handling). And using our resourcefulness, we opened all our pencil boxes, formed them into a circle and played House and school with our newly acquired June Bugs. My imagination never tired. Even on those days when I played alone, for the most part, I never seemed to have “nothing to do”, and I don’t ever remember being bored while on the island.
I have very fond memories of playing in the front yard one day alone. I’m not really sure why none of the other kids were outside, but there I was for the very first time faced with nothing to do. I remember looking around and noticing all sorts of rocks lying around. So, being the imaginative soul that I am, I grabbed a few of those rocks and played house with them! I had a Poppa, a Momma, and several children. When the day was done, I took my new little family inside with me so I could put them to bed. I kept my rock family for a very long time before outgrowing them.
That’s right; I am the original inventor of the Pet Rock.