My daughter is one who is quite aware of age and time passing. The period around each birthday is difficult as she grieves the passing of one age and the beginning of another. She talks of not remembering the things she did and experienced when she was 5, or 6, or 7. And we don’t even talk about what happened when she was 9 as she can only see the upheaval of her life and family as she knew it. I hope, at some point, she will be able to remember rock climbing, hang gliding for the first time, running in the rain, movie weekends, and other aspects of being 9 – but for right now, she is aware only of the life changes. I hope someday she will find gratitude for those changes as I have, but all in time and maturity and experience.
When I think of being 9, I remember it being a year of change as well. It is the year that I was diagnosed as being legally blind without correction possible. It is the year I took my first trip via airplane. The year I really did some silly things to get in good with the boys. It was the year of a wonderful teacher who read books, had funny sayings, and had us memorize multiplication tables. It was a year of change, but a year that I remember fondly – without hurt or pain or true emotional attachment.
Sometimes, when my daughter becomes morose about the passing of time or when she worries about how quickly the next few years will pass, I remind her of living today, today… or I point out the little experiences or the journeys or the lessons. Often, I wonder what she will take her from her childhood? What are the highlights or the things that she will remember and treasure? What about her life does she love doing? Will there always be a chasm – what she loved about life before she turned 9 and what she loved about her life after?
I loved the large oak tree in my grandma’s yard with the largest spool I’d ever seen serving as a table. Everyone would gather there on spring and summer evenings. While the adults talked, the kids played. I loved the swing my grandpa made just for me.
I loved sledding
Dressing up and creating variety shows with friends
Dancing and choreographing
Building forts in the yard as late into the evening as possible
I loved phone calls
Staying up late into the night reading – spending hours on end reading
Sunday afternoon football games on TV spent with popcorn and the whole family
Finding the sunny spot on the carpet and taking a nap
Racing to the barn with my dad to feed the horses
I loved rain storms, electrical storms, anything that involved the night skies and the lightening
Making mud pies and mud cookies and decorating each with leaves and flowers
Exploring the woods
Standing on my dad’s feet while he walked
Eating strawberries and olives straight from the can
Teasing and banter with my dad
Drawing, playing, creating, pretending…writing…
The one thing that struck me as I considered my childhood and the little things that I love and remember so clearly – they are the little things; the things that weren’t planned as much as they were a part of everyday life.
As I wrote and remembered, I also felt the feelings that revolved around the things I love. I remember the feeling of the house and the comfort that I took in never doubting the security of my family. I had a home, a sanctuary, a best friend in my dad, a brother to serve as object of my attention, numerous cats and dogs. I had the world beyond the house and the extended family right around the corner. I had the freedom to be whoever I wanted to be, for the most part and the support of my parents regardless of where I was.
I love the little things about my life – but perhaps it is that feeling that I looked to then and rely upon now, to some extent.
What did you love as a child?