Childhood as it was

What did your parents do that you would never let your children do? A reader writes about her Kiwi kid rural upbringing: "Dad would put my brother and I and usually the dog in the bucket of the front-end loader, lift it to maximum height above the tractor — maybe 3m and certainly tipping a bit backwards — then zoom around the orchard at top (tractor) speed, hitting every bump he could find while laughing almost as much as we were.

Then in our early teens, an old Triumph 2000 was written off by rust. He took the boot off and gave us the keys and a paddock. One of us would stand in the boot tray holding on to the roof while the other did doughnuts and fishtails. Eventually the boot got boring and we graduated to lying on the roof.

There were only two very important rules — no braking and no collisions (eg, fence posts, trees). Both our parents worked full-time and ran a productive orchard so we got a lot of unsupervised time. We used it to do all sorts of cool but now terrifying stuff, like the time we turned our compressed air slug-guns into flamethrowers by tipping petrol down the barrel and firing from the hip over a lit stick held at arm's length in the other hand. My kids are urban (no tractors, no doughnut paddocks) and will probably have their own kids before I let them walk to the dairy unsupervised."

Signs of grown-up-ness

"I've never had a pair of shoes professionally fitted in my life. However I've recently developed joint issues and decided to stop buying cheap shoes and invest in one (or two) really good pairs from a store that was a bit more expensive.

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All my current shoes were painful and just weren't cutting it. All typically bought by grabbing my size. I went to said pricier store and they did the whole walking, digital-mapping sorcery. Up pops a whole bunch of things I don't understand (arch height, ratios, colour coding), but one line I do get — 'size 6.5-7'. Like an idiot, I open my gob and correct her, 'No, I wear an 8.'

Indulgent sales staff dutifully fetched an 8 and they fitted like all the other shoes I own. In my mind, just fine. However, the shoe lady poked the toe-end and proclaimed they were too big. Eh? Cue her producing a size 7 ... and they fitted, perfectly. She asked me to put on my old shoes I came in with (size 8s), and poked at them a bit, felt my toes, and informed me that a large contributing factor to my current shoes not being comfortable was because they don't fit." (Via reddit.com)