|I was used to being the only girl in the neighborhood. I had three brothers, one older and two younger.
The few families who lived nearby had all boys, younger and older than me. No one my age, not a boy or a girl. My oldest brother, Harold, had two close buddies his own age, all starting middle school in the fall. I was the only kid headed for the sixth grade.
We lived on the outskirts of town, adjacent to a forest and a pond big enough for swimming and
boating. Mom was always telling me. “Keep an eye on your two brothers.”
Harold and his friends were always going off looking for adventure somewhere the younger boys and I couldn’t find them. Actually, I knew the woods better than any of them, as I had accompanied my dad on many short hikes.
One day I ditched the younger boys and followed Harold and his friends a few miles into the woods. I discovered they had made a fort that overlooked the pond. I ran up to the fort, but the boys blocked the entrance.
“What’s the password?” they said in unison.
I shrugged. They didn’t want me in their inner circle, even though I wanted in.
One of my brother’s buddies suggested I prove I was worthy of membership in the group. He suggested I swim across the pond. I did better than that. I challenged him to race me across the pond. If I won, I earned membership in the group and therefore the password to the fort.
Even in shorts and a top, I beat him. No password needed. I made the cut.