While reading Tom Sawyer to the boys, we got to the part where Tom dupes other boys into paying him for the chance to whitewash his fence. The boys pay Tom with their childish treasures: Marbles, kites, junk they find, and in one case, a dead rat.
My oldest, who’s about Tom’s age, says, “What?! A dead rat?”
“Well, yeah, back then boys thought that was cool.”
“Were boys back then stupid?”
“No, they just didn’t know better.”
“Didn’t they ever hear of germ theory?”
“No son, they just found stuff and thought it was cool. Boys would still do it today if their parents would let them out of the house and out of sight for more than a minute.”
I should write a modern version of Tom Sawyer that has helicopter parents.