I wouldn’t describe my mom and dad as helicopter parents. Partly because giving us a long leash was just their parenting style. Partly because with eight kids running around like a bunch of maniacs, you’d need a whole fleet of helicopters to keep track of us. Raising a ridiculous amount of children also comes with a hefty price tag in terms of groceries and other essentials. As such, we typically couldn’t afford to be involved in organized activities like hockey, swimming or music lessons. And when you grow up in rural Southwestern Ontario, there aren't many metropolitan distractions to occupy your time with. In short, we learned pretty quickly how to entertain ourselves. Sometimes that meant innocent enough activities like going for a bike ride or swimming at grandma’s beach. Other times, our boredom-busting tactics were a tad more… idiotic. For example, the street we grew up on was a gravel road. My brother Nicholas and I would often walk along that road with our cousins Jonathan and Adam, and to keep ourselves entertained, we came up with a very clever game. A real thinking man’s game if you ask me. The rules are pretty complex, so try to keep up. Step one, grab a handful of gravel. Step two, hurl said gravel into the air. Step three, close your eyes and brace yourself as rocks rain from the heavens. Sometimes you’d luck out with just a small pebble bouncing off your shoulder. Other times a big rock would crack you on the top of your skull. There were no real winners. Just varying degrees of losers. Don’t’ judge us too harshly. The game was inspired by my big brother Damien, who used to throw lawn darts (and I’m talking old school lawn darts equipped with pointy metal tips) high into the sky and see how close to him he could get them to land. Another incidence of stupidity really stands out. It was a warm summer day, and Jonathan, Adam, Nicholas and I were once again devising ways to occupy our afternoon. The activity we landed on? Setting things on fire in Jonathan and Adam’s backyard. For starters, we doused a large piece of plywood with gas, set it ablaze and dared each other to run across it. Then we kicked things up a notch, lighting up a soccer ball and hotfooting it up and down the lawn. But the scorched feather in our cap had to be our short-lived game of fireball baseball. After drowning a green tennis ball in gas, our pitcher Adam lit the sucker up and picked it up with a pair of barbeque tongs. Turning to Jonathan who stood ready with his trusty aluminum baseball bat, Adam lobbed the fireball to him. Jonathan was quite the little athlete. WHACK! We all gaped in delight as the flaming tennis ball sailed through the air like a mini meteor. However, that delight was quickly replaced with dread as the trajectory of Jonathan’s well-struck fireball became clear. Why we thought it was a good idea to face the house remains a mystery. A combination of youthful inexperience and too much gas fumes, I suspect. Whatever the reason, the fiery missile not only made it across the yard to Aunt Rene and Uncle Ed’s house, but it flew directly into the open back door. A quick, collective scream of panic later and the four of us were sprinting toward the house to keep it from burning to the ground. Thanks to some ridiculous luck, the one-in-a-million shot did no damage, as the fireball must have extinguished just before flying inside. We put the gas can away anyway, agreeing that it might be best not to press our good fortune.