There once was a time when kids didn’t have smartphones, computers, satellite or cable.

Sometimes mothers, busy cleaning house on Saturday mornings, would give kids the ultimatum: “Help or get out!” Children would jump on their bikes or take off on the run with the warning, “Be home by dinnertime,” echoing behind. Sometimes dads were quick to follow.

They grabbed fishing rods, ball gloves, footballs, basketballs and B.B. guns. The really lucky ones had a dog that was also kicked out of the house.

They learned to whittle, play Mumblety-peg (yes, they had their own Buck or Barlow), and that punching a bully, while ill-advised, was sometimes necessary, especially if they picked on a little brother or sister.

They climbed trees, jumped from hay mows and didn’t wear bike helmets. They learned that they weren’t likely to bleed to death from a bloody nose or skinned knees, that crying did little good in front of their friends, and that everyone liked to sign a cast.

They learned the techniques of tossing fishing lines, untangling reels and unhooking catfish. They’d accept a “double dare” to put a nightcrawler in their mouth and could pitch a tent made from an old tarp. They learned to launch an apple with a stick, to catch crayfish with bare hands and to skinny dip in secluded spots.

If they joined a team, they learned about winning and losing and, more importantly, about how to be gracious winners and good losers.

They were Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies and Girl Scouts while not being thought of as landing from another planet, while 4-H and FFA kept them busy getting ready for county fairs.

There were secret handshakes, campfires, spooky stories, making hobo dinners and learning to cut the right hot dog stick. Most figured out that cooties were a cruel little invention that seemed fun until you were the one infected.

They learned to identify poison ivy the hard way, found ticks in their hair and discovered that chiggers can crawl into some really inconvenient places.

They learned that pets don’t live forever and that funerals aren’t just for people. Those kids wore out tires on their bicycles and had to replace them. At night, they read books by flashlight until they drifted away for even more adventures.

When show and tell was held during classes, students would sit in awe as pictures or mementos of family vacations were shared or a praying mantis was displayed in a quart jar.

Then they grew up, got good jobs and wanted something better for their own children: the best phones and clothes; family chauffeuring service; shielding from being called names, hurt feelings or losing T-ball games; and the best video game systems that would keep them occupied for hours.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thanks for kicking me out of the house.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” — Pablo Picasso

Along the way:

According to the Fuzz, it looks like there’s a good chance of you experiencing a home invasion this spring. By the way, Fuzz is our family in-and-out cat: When you open the door, she runs either in or out.

After her daily romp around the yard and skulking visit to the barn, she returned to her indoor space and was calmly grooming her fur. I leaned down to give her a scratch and felt something under her fur that didn’t belong: a tick.

My wife quickly retrieved the treatment recommended by our veterinarian and speedily applied the liquid as I held the cat. A short time later, I found a tick creeping up my neck. Tick season has arrived.

The American dog tick and its cousin, the deer tick, are nasty little insects that can really bug our pets, but they are just as willing to hitch a ride on any strolling human. They’re found in tall grass, woodlands and field edges, and about anywhere else you and your dog may decide to take a walk. It’s always important to follow a veterinarian’s advice to protect your pets and to prevent ticks from getting a piggyback ride into your home.

Ticks don’t jump, fly, or drop from trees onto your head and back. If you find one attached there, it probably latched onto your foot or leg and crawled up your entire body.

While that’s discomforting in its own right, we also know that the deer tick is guilty of transmitting Lyme disease, while the more common dog tick has been known to carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. Now those are real reasons to be aware of these little buggers’ presence.

Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are preventable. Reducing tick abundance in your yard, wearing tick-repellent clothing, treating pets every month and getting into a habit of doing a quick body scan are all great actions for preventing tick bites.

For most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection. A quick tick check at bath or shower time can be helpful in finding and removing attached ticks before harm is done.

Here are four ways to help protect you from tick problems.

• T: Tweezer ticks by grabbing the head as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out. Disinfect the area before and after removal.

• I: Inspect for ticks after outdoor activities.

• C: Create a barrier by using repellant clothing and approved chemicals. These also protect against mosquitoes, ants, flies, chiggers and midges.

• K: Avoid tick habitats. These include shady, wooded and weedy edges. This can be tough while walking the dog, exploring the countryside, birding or hunting, so refer back to “T-I-C.” Don’t forget Rover and Tabby.

Step outside:

• May 23: Hunting film tour sponsored by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, 7 p.m., Drexel Theater, 2254 E. Main St., Columbus. Enjoy an evening of awesome cinematography featuring dream hunts from around the world. Raffles are available for some great prizes. Traditional movie snacks and drinks as well as your favorite adult beverages are available. Cost is $12 and $6 for children 12 and under. Contact 614-888-4868 or email

• Today: International Migratory Bird Day. Celebrate by exercising your legs and your binoculars.

• Tomorrow: Sporting clays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.

• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.

• May 31 to June 2: Ohio Dragonfly Conference, University of Rio Grande in Rio Grande, Ohio. For details, visit

• June 8 and 9: Become a hunter education instructor, Division of Wildlife, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay. Training is free, but a background check is required. Submit your registration at least two weeks in advance. For questions, call Jaron Beck at 419-429-8324.

Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard 45867-0413 or via email at