I was reading a diary entry of Ariawoman today, and she was waxing poetic about the things she missed about childhood and although my childhood wasn't exactly an episode of "The Brady Bunch", it did make me think about a few things that were good. I know "A", you're shocked. Sure there was the sexual abuse and the almost daily World War III battles between my parents, but the kid did get a break once in a while. After all, I did get to ride my bike, play Barbies, and pee out in the bushes under my bedroom window. Oh wait, maybe that last one was a little weird. So without further ado...
Things I miss about childhood by awittykitty
Lessons. I took various kinds of lessons. Piano Lessons. Baton Twirling Lessons. Swimming Lessons. I think they were mainly to get me out of the house, rather than for the betterment of my life. Baton Twirling was probably my least successful venture, because it involved physical coordination of which I had none, so I ended up with a lot of large purple bruises on my head and forearm area. Swimming was better however. I grew up in South Florida, so it was like summer year round. I had a terrible crush on my swimming teacher Mr. Gonzalez. He was so kind. I would try to float on my back and he would gently hold his hand under my back. I thought he was in love with me too. (See "A", even then....inappropriate love choices). My piano lessons were the best though. I had a great teacher named Sylvia. She was this big, brassy blonde who had Marilyn Monroe hair and wore bright flowered strapless sun dresses. She played in an all girls band around South Florida and instead of teaching me the usual little kid music like "Old McDonald Had a Farm", she taught me how to play the piano with such songs as "The Man I Love", "It Had to Be You" and "Glow Worm". I still love that music today.
1960's Toys. You may computers and gameboys now, but I had an Easy Bake Oven and a Creepy Crawler Maker. The Easy Bake Oven certainly catapulted me into cooking superstardom. I mean, a little tin dish, a single light bulb and a mix. Wow! It was way better than waiting for my mom to show me how to cook, because as of June 26, 2005, 9:55 p.m., I'm still waiting. The Creepy Crawler Maker was even better. And what a safe product it was. You poured this highly toxic liquefied goo into a little flat metal tray and then took metal tongs and set it into this electrified hot plate which was about the temperature of the sun. (I don't think they had warning labels in 1967.) You then "cooked" your creepy crawlers (no not Michael Jackson facial appendages, but insects) and then pulled them out and waited for them to cool. Heh, heh. Waited for them to cool. Right. Ow...ouch, ouch. I certainly couldn't wait to extricate my little rubber bugs out of the metal trays with the highly sharpened metal tweezer thingies. Oh no. Sometimes I would even try to pull the bugs out while they were still cooking. Did I mention, I did most of my childhood activities unsupervised? My mom was almost always on the phone, while I was doing any of my evil experiments in the Creepy Crawler Lab. I'm amazed I made it to adulthood with only minimal physical damage.
Playing barbies with my friends. I got my first real Barbies in 1968 when I was 10. Before that I had had a variety of other dolls and supposed Barbies. When I was little I had a Huckleberry Hound doll. I kept trying to take its clothes off and put high heels on it, evidentally unaware that it was Huckleberry Hound doll, and not a Malibu Barbie. I then got this large doll called Serenade. Ok, she was cool. She had holes in her stomach. If you sat her close enough to my "special" record player, the sound from the record playing would come out of her stomach. Imagine how freaked out my Dad was when I had Serenade "sing" for him, after he had tossed back several large glasses of Jim Beam. Yowza!
Riding Bikes. I was a primo bike rider and I remember when my Dad taught me to ride my blue Western Flyer. I did amazingly well and it was suddenly like I had wings to fly. And I did. I was rarely home after that. And again, my mom wasn't real watchful, so I would be gone for like 7 hours daily during the summer and she wouldn't even notice. I would ride to the library and to the duck pond and to my swimming lessons and to my friend Meredith's house and to the Circle Theatre and up and down alleyways and explore the various alligator infested canals and go to my first boyfriend Mike's house to jump on his trampoline and to 7/11 to buy ice cream or bubblegum. During the school year, I rode my bike to school even though it was about 4 miles and I was only about 7. Like my car now, my bike meant freedom.
Never running out of things to do. I don't know if I was hyper or creative or what, but I never ran out of things to do when I was a kid. I was always on my bike, playing out in the yard, catching various wild critters out in the yard to scare my mother with, drawing, climbing trees, swimming, gardening (I had my first garden when I was about 8), playing with the kids next door (once my mom FINALLY gave me permission to leave the yard. The reality of the situation was, I was actually safer outside of my yard than inside, but that's another entry). I did a lot of pretending when I was a kid. I had a playhouse out in the yard, and that was like Pretend Central. On some days that was my store where I sold stuff from. Other days it was my house where I was the mommy and I'd have my babies in cribs and I would care for them and give them bottles and rock them to sleep. Sometimes I'd decorate it with flowers and fruit (we had an avocado tree, a mango tree, 8 coconut trees and a banana bush in our yard). And sometimes I'd just go out and sit on the dirt floor and read. I just never uttered the phrase, "Mom, I have nothing to do..."
More Friends. In Florida we didn't have many kids in our neighborhood, but when we moved to California when I was 10, our neighborhood in Marin County was absolutely teaming with kids and I loved it. I had never had so many kids to play with. We roamed in gangs. We played morning, noon and night. It was great and it really helped me to come out of my shell. I started to do better in school. I started going to parties and sleepovers. I suddenly felt more normal and accepted, something I had never felt before. And while bad things were escalating at home, with the comfort of friends, they were easier to deal with.
Spending Time with my Dad. Probably what I miss most about my childhood was spending time with my Dad. Now life with my Dad wasn't exactly perfect when I was a kid. He was a major alcoholic my entire childhood, but when he wasn't drinking, we had some very nice times together. We just meshed. We didn't have to talk. We just were....if you know what I mean. And even though he wasn't home much (he was an airline pilot), he did so much more nurturing and parenting than my mom ever did. When he'd come off a trip, we'd always jam as much stuff into his time off as we could, like feeding the ducks, going for car rides, hiking, talking, going to the ocean. I remember sitting in his lap and reading my first book aloud to him (a Berenstein Bear book). It meant so much to me that he sat and did that with me. He also used to sing to me while we rode bikes. He wasn't much of a singer, but he'd make up whimsical songs with my name in them and I'd react in mock anger, but I loved that he did that. In return I mistakenly tried to be the son he never had. I mean I know that he liked me as a girl ok, but he used to buy me baseballs and basketballs and expect me to be athletic. Heh. Sorry, Dad. Me no athletic. But I would still go down to the park and shoot like 50 hoops with him and maybe, if the wind was blowing right and all the planets lined up, I might hit one basket and then he'd run around in a circle laughing uproariously and high fiving me like I had just made the winning score in the NBA play-offs. So it all kind of worked out ok.
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