Thursday, March 26, 2009

Which one/s were you? Age 2-10

Maybe it is people moving and finding photos, or the fact that I myself am regressing, and Linda and I talk about the mentality of ‘that age’, the childhood age. But I’m doing a couple of ‘Which ones were you?” blogs with pictures. Don’t worry, I will tell all first, so any stories have plenty of company. I also find it wonderful and fascinating because we often as adults don’t talk about our favorite plushie, yet these are the times when emotions were very strong, when time moved very oddly; vacation was LONG time away, school days were long, playing time was short and fast: Childhood.

Linda also has a post today on a Girl’s Gotta Fly if you want to go over there to take a look. Thanks to all the individuals who have reached out in the last several weeks as this has been an especially brutal month for me in both healthwise and emotionally. I am thankful for every single card and letter, and every kindness during this period where now I have several hate mail, or emails a day. This has been a difficult month for a lot of people. I also want to thank those who helped with their commitment and contribution to the Postcard Project which isn’t really my project but the project of many people, who all assist me in a dream, which at times becomes harder to believe in.

On to the pictures, and the stories! I will be mixing pre-school and the first school years here; the time when ‘best friends’ sometimes changed every week, but sometimes lasted for a couple years. The time when you played alone or with others, or were the one organizing the games and bossing people around. The time you had practice and sports, sometimes your choice and sometimes not as you got from piano lessons to karate.

So, I’m going to start with me (which will be spread over several pictures, as I assume it will be with you), which is here. I was both a bit of a loner, but I also had a rather vivid imagination. I didn’t have imaginary friends, I had imaginary worlds! As you can see, here the adventure is over….for now. The poor dog (and my poor dog) has about reached his limit at being….er…the crucial dog to get messages through? And the galactic war will have to wait for another day. We had a dog and a large back yard so whether it was gong on a expedition (putting up a tent….only to find slugs in my shoes when I came out – ahhhhhhh!), or creating my own fish pond, with a wading pool and then going fishing (they were bathtub wind up fish), there was always something going on.

Here is what I was not, even though we had a lot of trees: a tree climber. There seem to be the tree climbers and the non-tree climbers and those who liked to climb trees either have a) a story about a broken limb or b) a favorite branch they liked to hang out on, it was a second home to them. Or sometimes they have both. Though we had several trees, including two very large cherry trees, I was NOT a tree climber, in fact, I had issues with the top rungs of a ladder. But I always liked the idea of being like the squirrels and climbing trees and going from branch to branch. I did TRY, it is just I found out that for example tree branches have SAP. And it gets on your hands, and your clothes and is sticky and dirty! Oddly tree climbers never found this the obstacle I did.

Okay here we have, um, well me, I guess. Plushie, check, tea party, check, flower, check! Although I tended to bring MORE plushies than this (my first bear was green, and lost at the age of 2, on the ferry, I cried a LOT – like hours). When it was winter, you could make a tent out of your bed with the sheets and have a tea party indoors. My favorite plushie was a pink bunny, it was dark pink with a light pink belly and I would put the pen in its paws (I could write quite young, at 3 or so), and write simple love notes. I love you Daddy from Rabbit. That was the bunny’s name: Rabbit. No, not Peter or Flopsy, or Cottontail: Rabbit. I know that there are those who probably looked for BUGS while outdoors instead of flowers and four leaf clovers. Like I will say, everyone is different, and that’s a good thing. I once hit a butterfly with a rake and then cried and got a small box and had a funeral. I think after that my parents did a lot of yard work by themselves as they could envision this quite large graveyard of every moth, butterfly and other animal killed in our backyard.

Okay, here they are, the girls who took music lessons (I wish I had a picture for the girls who took ballet lessons and tap but you can throw yourselves in here too!). A lot of girls got ballet or music lessons from VERY early ages like 2 or 3. Now I hear of girls getting karate or judo lessons from the same age. But the tradition was music (piano!) and ballet. I did not get those, probably because we lived in a rural area and didn’t have a Y or a rec center that I can remember, which is why I had to learn how to swim at 11-12. But there were a lot of them, and I am always curious how many, after taking piano from 3-14 can play piano now? I mean, I learned French for a total of a week and I can still sing Frère Jacques but I think everyone can. So that hardly counts. I can’t imagine picking a saxophone for a child, but perhaps the girl wanted it, we become enamoured with unusual things for unusual reasons. Either way, um, that would have been some ‘interesting’ practice sessions in that house. I have seen 1/8 size double basses for children, it is just I can’t imagine a 5 or 6 year old going, “Mummy, Daddy, I HAVE to play the double bass…..” Which is probably why there are a lot of people who can play piano and not that many the contrabassoon and double bass.

Helping Cooking: not me! But it is a great picture. Linda talks about making little pies from the left over dough her mother rolled. And while I rolled dough at my grandmothers and made sugar cookies the idea of making a tiny apple pie as a child sort of blows me away. But she was on a farm and her mother cooked in an open kitchen so I guess that is what she saw, she still sort of pulls recipies out of her memory from something her mother made when she was 12. I tried making some food but of course went WAY over the top and wanted to make cherries Jubilee (I think it was the setting them on fire that appealed to me!) or soup from scratch. So by the time it was done and people were like, “This is edible” I decided I would live on take-out and instant food if this was the time to appreciation ratio. As an adult I came to enjoy cutting up veg and making sauces and mexican food in particular. But as a child, no. I am sure we have some young little kitchen hands who probably made dinner for their siblings but that wasn’t me (that’s why I had IMAGINARY tea parties – cause I couldn’t make tea.).

Here we have the childhood pet. Since pets teach responsibility, all kids seem to get them. Some people, some kids seems to bond early with animals and it stays with them their whole life. Since our dog ran around in our yard (and around, and around, and around…it was a little hyper), I didn’t have to walk it. I did walk my grandfather’s cat, which was the coolest cat I have ever known: tail cut off, taken as a favor to a witch and she walked with me all over the woods. But other people like to walk dogs, it becomes a sort of life routine. I would have a cat if I could, since I can’t walk a dog and a cat is better when you are a stay indoors person (notice how I avoided ‘shut in’). But I don’t have any great childhood memories, sorry.

Linda says this was her, the shy girl on the playground. Often it was me too. That may surprise people but I am essentially shy; it is just when I am not, I am bossy. Err… Anyway, the shy girl waits to be invited. Sadly this rarely happens so she doesn’t have a LOT of friends. Her smile says she WANTS to be a friend, but will you play with her? Shy girls also tend to be the kind who have tea parties by themselves with their stuffies on the lawn.

Speaking of Stuffies, and other objects, what did you HAVE to bring to school? Here is a girl who has to have her stuffie. I have no problem with that since I don’t think Linda and I have traveled anywhere without at least one bear – our stuffed bears have seen Asian, Japan, Venice, Munich, Berlin, Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh, Amsterdam…… But when I was a child, there wasn’t really anything I needed except to be left to do my work. In fact, I was not a ‘recess’ or ‘you can go play in the back’ type of person. The boys were loud. They hogged the toys. And I would rather sit at my desk and do the work on the board for the other grades (we were in a small rural school so in first grade I just kept going around the chalk boards instead of taking recess – later, I played chess with the assistant principal – yup, that kid.). But I know several people who have had to sneak their favorite toy/shoes/GI Joe figure or whatever to school. We all carry our strength in different things.

Speaking of school and strength, we learned early there were two types of humans: Those the gym teacher approved of…..and the rest of us. I was in, ‘the rest of us’. This was sort of me, only I usually landed on my back or spine as we did front flips off the trampoline, I never could quite make it around. Same problem with cartwheels, I was a spoke off or something. So no, I was not naturally sporty, rather the opposite in fact. Only in adult hood when I found sports like running (the more you hurt, the better you do – this I could do!), or other sports where I could train myself did I do well. The OTHER type of girl was this, the sporty girl. Actually, I really like this picture because I call it the sporty femme girl. She is sporty and you can see has that natural athletics but she has her PINK runners, and her PINK thermos and her PINK lunch box. Which is all fine, I am just pointing out that she is probably a bit frilly or has a lot of Barbie at home to play with when she isn’t being sporty. And later in life she will complain that practicing passing the baton chips her nail polish. That is unlike THIS girl: also known as ‘the Tomboy.’ Now this girl often, oddly was also good at tree climbing. Imagine that! And to be quite honest either was very popular or was the type of person who was friends with shy girls. I don’t know why, it is just a pairing I often see. Plus it makes it easy to play house, no one has to fight over who is going to be mom and who is going to be dad; or who is going to be the doctor on the plushies and who will be the nurse to wrap them up. Tomboys are often either good at sports or just don’t care. Or WANT to do sports like ice hockey that they aren’t supposed to (Go and do your Ringette!), they want softball, they want stickball, they want tackle football if they can get it! So fess up, who had the Tomboy phase (hey, sometimes it lasts for a short time – I know a good friend, who was the BEST Tom Boy and would do anything until she came back one summer all frilled up and that was that. When you suggested climbing through bushes playing hide and seek, she pretended not to hear. It was all hair and nails and dresses.)

Here we have our Tomboy and more frilly girl pairing (Gee I wonder whose idea it was to go up on the roof like that?). Actually, since I lived in an urban environment, I didn’t climb trees but I did go over rooftops a lot, and my hideout was in a nook of a rooftop. But let’s see, blouse (white) and dress versus waders and t-shirt. Actually it could be the girl in the dress, since often Tomboys were shamelessly used to get access to thing we WANTED to do, or places we wanted to go (or sneak into) but didn’t have the courage to try ourselves. At least that is how it was for me. It is always easier with two….and more fun!

Now this is something where Linda and Cheryl get all misty eyed and I get all ‘Wha?” It is not the flowers, it is the clothes. She is in clothes her mother made. This is the experience of Linda and Cheryl and I think a lot of young children. I do know that I had something made of drapes at one point. But in a rural area, going to school in mom’s made clothes is pretty standard, unless you had hand-me down’s. Which depending how poor you were, could have been your brothers. UG. Well, I suppose better than Winston Churchill who wore pinafores until 6 or 7 I think, that has to sort of haunt you, press wise when you a prominent war leader! It looks like her bag was made from the same material as her coat. The sad news is that when it comes to sewing some moms got it and some don’t – so you can look back at your early pictures with a wince or well, it is almost always with a wince isn’t it, except when you are going, “That’s me? When was I blonde?”

Now, any young sketchers and artists out there? I admit I drew what I THOUGHT was great art. But suddenly I realized in grade two, when given the assignment to draw a bicycle, that I was NOT an artist. As I knew exactly what a bicycle looked like and yet I couldn’t make it come out on the page. This not only frustrated me to tears but convinced me that art and I were to part ways forever! However, I know there are many people who are very good artists because some of the readers have sent me their art, and it is good! So I am curious at what age people made their first art book. Or drew their first comic?

Now this, the reader, is ME. I mean, I was the child who was put to sleep with my father reading the Iliad and the works of Hercules and I read Sherlock Holmes as a child (and Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators, Half Magic, The Thinking Brain and a few other classics including the entire works of the writer of the Black Stallion). My parents used to force me to get one non-fiction book for each fiction one. Well that was when ‘choose your own adventures’ where coming out, and so I had to get a great big old biography for THAT? Then as I started getting out 20-35 books at a time, it was TWO non-fiction books to each fiction one. I tried reading under the covers but my bed squeaked too much or my breathing was off, all I know is my parents could tell when I was NOT asleep. So I improvised, much like ancient Egyptians. My parents watched TV, and they would close the door but leave a few inches open, and then I could, by leaning out from the end of the bed, use the sliver of light, to read, by moving the book back and forth. The nights they left a decent 6 inch sliver of light were GOOD nights (I wanted a book where the text glowed in the dark!). My parents would lock me out of the house to try and get some sun on me…..and I would go with books in hand, and lie down on the grass and read. I can’t remember how many car trips I heard this, “Aren’t you ever going to put that book down and look around! Here were are at (insert great natural wonder like Yellowstone) and all you do is have a head down in a book!” Yup, that was me, the one who fantasized as a child about being locked overnight in the library and how great that would be. I was the one who set up a “library” at home and tried to convince sibling/parents to ‘borrow’ books so I could stamp them and then give them a library card. I was the geek in book geek.

Okay, here we go, another double. First we have the ‘best friends’ and these are the people who DID have best friends for several years. They had sleep-overs, they had birthdays together, they went to parks together, they were inseparable. And then whether it was going to different schools later or just different interest, she had to take piano lessons and you started doing science projects, or whatever, somehow it just drifted apart. The memories are all still good memories but no one really knows why some best friends just drift (of course, for some there is the ‘memorable moment’). Okay, now here is the rest of us, who had perhaps imaginary friends, or to make it more respectable, plushie friends and a strong imagination. We were always on adventures because we learned (from books like Encyclopedia Brown) that if you keep your eyes open you can see anything from a bank robbery in progress to playing Harriet the Spy. It was cool if you had a friend and could place a letter in a ‘secret drop’ and then pass letters back and forth that way until it became suddenly not as cool anymore (oddly I still think it is cool, why did I stop?).

This last girl is sort of painful to me because she is so often misunderstood. The gift giver. You see how happy she is, because she has probably worked a long time and hopes to see the anticipation or the joy of getting a gift on the person’s face. But you also notice that she is alone. There are people who are natural givers, that is just the way it seems to work out. Even today, when at work they need someone to bake cookies for a sale, well, while there might be 30 people in the office, there will always be the same six with a few joining them. The problem is that the gift giver WANTS friends, but their actions and thinking is very hard for people to understand. When I was a child I made a list, “Things people forget when they grow up!” And the first item was, “Children always love gifts.” When my father would occasionally bring a gift home from work, I can tell you hearing his footsteps up the driveway meant I was at the door. Was today gift day? And with each other, some children, many children like giving each other gifts. They don’t have to be fancy, they don’t have to be expensive, but often it is something precious to the person, or something they think the other person will like. Or like when they went to the Zoo and there was a place to buy wax pressings of animals, they would go up later and say, “I got you a monkey ‘cause you said once you liked monkeys!” The problem is that as children age, or change friends, they stop giving gifts or this person who comes up and gives gifts embarrasses them. Can’t she tell I want a gift from a BOY! Or, “Can’t she tell we were friends LAST month, when is she going to figure it out!” And as time goes on, people just become sort of more cynical, the idea of a person who likes or enjoys giving, is strange, is weird, there must be something wrong with them. If they are lucky, they find someone who they can give presents to for the rest of their life. Then at least ONE person understands.

Okay, I can’t finish without siblings. So first we have the younger sibling. This is pretty much a common scene. We have the older sibling (who is idolized by the younger sibling) granting some time to be with the younger sibling. However, you notice the younger sibling is playing a game (walk on the line!) and probably going on and on about people the older sibling has never heard about since it has been like 3 weeks since they listened and all the names have changed since thea (That was point 2: what is important to a child is just as important to them as what is ‘important’ when adults tell you ‘That’s cute’ or ‘that’s nice, but we have to talk about IMPORTANT things. But it IS important if Jenny took my favorite pencil and no buying another pencil won’t make it the same pencil and how do I get the pencil BACK?) Older sibling here has brought book and is either lost or busy reading. Now here we have two sisters, and Linda as a younger sister assures me that this younger sister is a troublemaker. She is the person whose favorite line is “That’s not fair” – how come she get to…….." Which is why she gets to go with older sister. Also makes older sister hate her, and get back at her during next ‘babysitting’ (“I’m too old to need a babysitter!”). It is the nature of siblings to want the attention of the older sibling, but also have a weird hate relationship too. So, will the younger sibling ‘stay close’ because older sibling tells her to, or will younger sibling say, “I don’t have to do what you say, you aren’t mom and dad!” and run off? Or is younger sibling here to find out about older siblings’ friends who she then wants as HER friends. Either way, when I was 18, I finally figured out I did not need to win EVERY award plus one that my sibling had; I could (gasp) simply choose to do what I LIKED.

And here we finish with The Princess a.k.a. the Blackmailer, a.k.a. The Girl who HAD to be in charge. Often it was the siblings, and some younger brother is off getting her a drink due to some leverage she has over him. But sometimes they were single kids or just kids at school, but I have seen that smirk of, “Oh yes, bow to me!” WAY too many times. I know kids went through that phase, and I know they are out there, they can’t ALL have ended up as prison guards! So what was the deal? Why the need to prove that you were the person who decided what game we played? Which oddly was you as Queen, and the rest of us as peasants all having to bow as you passed by. Please, if this was you, I have always been curious, why?

So, where are you in these pictures (or if you are a guy, translate into ‘guy’ and please share your stories too!)? And what is your story? What did you HAVE to bring to school? Where you a tomboy, good at sports or like the rest of us, scum in the eyes of the gym teacher? Did you have four years of tap dance? Did gymnastics until 15? Was a Tomboy until you noticed BOYS and that they kind of liked the girls who didn’t have scratches all over them from sliding home! Were you the bookworm (did kids as school call you 'worm' too?!)? What is the story these pictures jog, and please share it with us!


Lene Andersen said...

When I was about 4, my favourite stuffed dog disappeared on a walk in the woods with my kindergarten/daycare class and I was devastated. Some time after that, my grandmother and aunt took me on a daytrip to Sweden and bought another little stuffed dog for me. I called it Lady (was obsessed with The Lady and The Tramp Disney story), my other grandmother made a dress for it and we were inseparable. I still have that dog. It's in a basket in my hallway closet.

My mother made my clothes and her own. She used to sew at the diningroom table and I'd sit underneath, playing. Once, I thought I'd help her and cut some fabric for her. Which turned out to be a half-made suit out of really expensive fabric she was sewing for herself. She had a very serious talk with me about not "helping" without checking with her first!

Victor Kellar said...

I was not particularly good at sports but in grade six a teacher pushed me into a gymnastics club and I was OK at it ..

I was definitely a reader. It started out with comic books, progressed to A Merritt and Narnia then spread to any written word I could get my hands on. Being small, and non athletic, being a boy reader is not always a pleasant experience ... I learned how to take a punch

We live for a couple of years in a rural environment so I was a tree climber. Even when we lived in our small city, I spend a great deal of time outdoors, where tree climbing morphed into shimmying up drain pipes to the roof.

We always had pets, cats and dogs mostly. My love of dogs lives on to this day, to the point where I am considering moving into dog care as a new business. And we just got a new puppy. I can't really imagine my life without dogs

I am the fourth kid out of eight siblings. Two older brothers and one older sister. Growing up, my father departed when I was young and my brothers pretty much stood in as my masculine role models. From my eldest brother I got my love of reading and writing, he encouraged my creativity in everything I did

What I had to take to school would vary .. I had a plastic penguin I used to carry around, I was a shy kid and he was my friend for a while. Then it was Hot Wheels, usually confiscated my teachers or stolen by classmates.

I never got into any kind of music. Collette was in band as a kid and learned to play piano, I know she hasn't played in years but sometimes, as she listens to a keyboard solo, I see her fingers moving ...

From 2 to 10 I went to a lot of schools, we moved around a lot, so it was difficult to make friends. Having a ton of sibs I usually relied upon them to be friends .. and I still do to this day. I guess I was bright but I really wasn't academic, I really didn't hit that stride till I got to high school

I did have friends, usually very intense relationships that would eventually burn out from over familiartiy. We were usually one of the poorer families in whatever school I went to, and I often ended up beign friends with one of the wealthier kids and eventually, it would be their parents who would move us apart ... their kid had to go up, the booky tree climber wasnt going anywhere.

I remember my childhood mostly with fondness. I am old enough now to understand that every black eye or insult were things that led to who I am now .. a guy who wouldnt insult you or give you a black eye for all the plastic penguins in the universe

Abi said...

Well, this could be a long essay! Sorry about that.

I wasn't much of a loner, but I was happy to play by myself. I would spend hours in the garden playing on the zip wire, pretending to have sporting events (it's amazing how much fun a zip wire with a climbing frame and wall to jump off can be), in which I always won, of course. Because I reigned supreme on the zip wire.

I did enjoy climbing trees. There were a cherry blossom and a sycamore tree in the back garden, and I climbed them both. The sycamore was more fun because it was higher, but the wall had to be climbed first so that I could reach the bottom branch. Getting up was easy, and the tree was nearly as tall as our 3 storey Victorian house. I held on very tight - my special skill. Getting down was sometimes a bit fraught - it was hard to get back from the bottom branch to the wall- it was a long gap onto a narrow, tall structure. I can remember sitting there for several minutes calling for Daddy so that he could lift me down. After that, I tied a trapeze to the bottom branch, and it acted as a step. I suspect that Daddy was pleased with this development. Oh, and my broken bones were unrelated to climbing trees...

I didn't play with my plushies much that I can recall. I liked to have them around, though. I still have one - a little yellow beagle called Snoopy. He says "I love you this much" on his t-shirt, and has his arms outstretched. He gives good hugs.

Obviously, I was the girl who took music lessons. Between 7-10 it was just the piano. I can still play a little bit. ;-) I had ballet lessons for a bit, but I think that when I had to go to a remedial "how to point your toe" class, my parents knew that I would never be a ballerina. Because I am sure that they had high hopes for me before that. Not.

I didn't do much cooking. Cakes and jam tarts, but that was about it. I think that I would have been much less of a fussy eater had they made me cook more - my aversion to onions disappeared when I started to cook my own. My children will have to cook a lot. It will be good for them.

I wasn't allowed a pet. I thought that this was most unfair. I wanted a horse or a guinea pig, but a cat would have done. I got a goldfish in a pond, which died when the weather became hot.

I was a shy child. I had enough friends, though. Not sure how that worked - couldn't have been too shy!

There wasn't anything I needed to take everywhere with me. I seem to remember that there was one doll and a couple of stuffed toys, plus the blanket I had when I was a baby I had to take with me to bed every night (one day my little sister went to bed with my doll, and the parents allowed it. I cried for a long time. I don't recall if the doll was extracted from the bed or not - I suspect I was just told to grow up). Now I won't take Snoopy anywhere with me in case he gets lost.

I was not the athletic type. I played some netball, but I was really bad at it. Mother was disappointed - she is really good at badminton and hoped to have children who were good at it, too. Alas, I take after my father.

I wasn't exactly a tomboy. Up until the age of 6 or 7 I used to wear pretty dresses whenever I could get away with it. One day, after a party, I jumped off the climbing frame wearing my favourite dress and it ripped and couldn't be fixed. After that, I stopped wearing dresses most of the time. The price was too high! I did like to build things (including the climbing frame in our back garden - it was made out of scaffolding and I used to set it up how I wanted it, and move the planks around), though, which is probably more of a boy thing than a girl thing.

I wore some home-made clothes - mostly school dresses and skirts, and cardigans Nana knitted, plus the occasional tracksuit she made. The other clothes were not home made, but did include some hand-me-downs. My favourite sort of clothes - so much cheaper than the sort you get in the shops!

I wasn't much of an artist, but I did develop my horse-drawing skills. I hadn't got very far by the time I was 10, but by the time I was 17 you could actually recognise which horse it was meant to be. Well I could, anyway.

I loved to read. My favourite book was Lord of the Rings, which I read when I was 9. It was hard going in parts, but incredibly exciting. I was going to make the film of it (and I'd have stuck far more faithfully to the plot, but would have been overwhelmed by the budgetary needs). My parents also used to want me not to read late at night. I tried a torch sometimes (it got hot under the covers, though) and sometimes I tried listening and turning the light off if I heard them approach. Also, I got told off a lot.

I did have just one best friend for most of primary school. However, we had an open relationship and frequently had different second-best friends. It was great - you always knew who your best friend was, but then you could hang around with other, more fun people. Not that Danielle was not fun, it's just that Sally, Lynsey and Anna were more fun. She liked Michelle. Danielle was a lovely girl, and I was so lucky to be in a class with her. I don't think that I have seen her since starting secondary school.

I wasn't much of a gift giver - far too possessive. I still struggle with getting rid of things (what if I need it later?), but I am getting better! Oh, hang on - I used to make gifts to give away. They didn't tend to be terribly well-constructed, though!

I was the big sister. Probably not a very good one. I think that my little brother liked me, and I know that my little sister wanted my attention (she would not go away), but she was a pain in the backside. Probably not as annoying as I was unpleasant, though. I feel very bad about that now - I actually like my little sister, and she is mostly only annoying when she is being intolerant of me because she says that I am being intolerant. And that's quite funny.

Yeah, I was the one who must be obeyed, also. I did it because I could. Only to my younger siblings, poor things. I don't think they really deserved me as a sister. Mind you when little sister went through her phase of being really pleasant we got along just fine - perhaps it was a reaction to having to put up with annoying little people. They just follow you, and you can't get away. You find friends and they have to tag along too.

rachelcreative said...

I was shy. I had a best friend from toddler group through to about 11. We had skipping races in the playground at age 6 to decide who would marry the boy we sometimes hung out with. I think I won but I never married him - though we did date in our late teens!

Our moms took me and my best friend to ballet class when we were 5. I was passed certificates in basic ballet but not long after we both decided we were tomboys. No more ballet after that. Tomboys do not wear pink tutus!

For me being a tomboy was wanting to do the fun cool things. Boys had the best toys - cars, lego, mechano, footballs, swords and guns. I developed a hatred for pink, for frills, for flowers, dresses and skirts because they stood for everything girly. No dolls for me.

I had (have!) a massive imagination and would disappear into imaginary worlds. I spent a lot of my alone time talking to myself play acting different characters from my worlds. I wanted to be James Bond not the pretty girl. I was a soldier, I was a spy and mostly I was a cowboy. Yep - I loved westerns. I wanted to chew gum and wear a cowboy hat.

From age 4 we had a very large garden with an old fenced off section at the top for chickens (long since gone with the previous owners). It was sheletered from the house and I would spend lots of time there by myself avenging the death of my father or something else I'd seen in a Western.

I loved stuffed toys (stuffies?) and had lots. My dad and later both brothers were brilliant at making them move and "talk" to me. I found it enchanting. In fact I still do! I totally believe they are alive in that moment.

I was lucky my brother nearest to my age liked to play with me. We'd use stuffed toys sometimes to act out stories. I remember 2 of my toys getting married one summer!

As we got older we'd put on plays for the family adapting stories from our story books for the "stage" and making props. I wrote and directed a play at Brownies for my six. Yes, I was a Brownie back when they had brown dresses and berets or woolly hats! I didn't care for the dress but the things we did were fun and not too girly.

I showed some promise at sport around 10 once I discovered netball. But high school killed off sport for me.

I was bright, I was always helping the teacher out and because me and my best friend starting maturing at 10 and 11 we were the strongest in our class. Sometimes this meant we helped carry stuff for teachers - sometimes it meant we had fights with boys.

I loved having fights with boys at around aged 10. Until one day a boy squared up to me and split my lip for picking on his friend. I thought it had been friendly rough and tumble like the boys have but he thought it was bullying. After that I only had fights with people picking on my own friends.

I was good at english writing stories and poems. I always thought I would be a writer one day. I still kind of think that I might be one day. I remember being told at 6 I was very good at colouring in but I never showed any promise as an artist.

And I'm still a tomboy at heart. I like a lot of "boys" stuff more than "girls" stuff. But I have allowed a few pink items of clothing back into my life at the age of 35.

Stephanie said...

I love this post! Great pictures and descriptions. I always wanted to be a tomboy and a tree climber, but we didn't have trees (and I suck at sports -- I blame asthma). Instead I was a bookworm. Not quite to the extent that you were, but enough. I also was pretty crafty. I made sooo many friendship bracelets as a kid.

And of course I was a loner. Sometimes I was the leader of the pack though, before I moved for the first time. Elementary school -- those were good times...

Alex M. said...

I was a total sports tomboy mixed with a large helping of nerd. Is there a term for a hybrid nerd/jock?

Come to think of it, I am still a nerd/jock;-)!

thea said...

Hey, I remember lots of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys too... starting when I was about 4. That brought back some memories...

I, like Linda, also have lots of cooking memories, cooking for farm workers (lots of baking!) and was pretty good in the kitchen by about 7 or 8. Traditional farm cooking is much the same the world over, I think.

And the books... I had a nose for books much like a ferret going after prey. People learned if they lost track of me while I was little, to try the bookcase and odd corners... no matter what kids elsewhere were doing.

If not on different continents, I can imagine running into you in such places when young :) (And probably ignoring you because you were not a book yourself!)

Shea said...

I'll start with Eliza, my cabbage patch I received when I was 5, my most prized possession. When I was 5, I went to a strict Christian Pentacost school. I was taught to fear God and my mother sent me in pageant dresses to school. I didn't cook and never got dirt, I was too prissy for that. I was very feminine, but I didn't like all the fuss with my hair and stuff. I am rarely seen in a dress now and hate to do my hair. My mother(a former biker's ole lady) relished in the fact that I was learning about God, but she let me know she was very angry at him and I never saw her pray. I was terrible at sports because I was petrified of being seen, and I was always chosen last for teams. I often wanted to disappear but never minded speaking up. It just had to be on my terms. I had a hard time making friends and can truly count the ones I have had in my life time on one hand maybe, true friends anyway. I was really hard to get close to, and when most people did, I shut them out. I was made fun of for the 'big words' I used in junior high. I read literature and Greek mythology. In 7th grade I was tortured unmercifully by the most popular girl. I brought most of it on myself because I refused to take her shit and often told her I thought that was exactly what she was made of. By the time I reached 9th grade, I found people I belonged with.... or rather was accepted by. Most were agnostic, atheists, or Wiccan. I was probably the only Christian. I was in the prayer club that met around the flag pole and prayed. My best friend was a guy who adored The Cure and wore black nail polish. He thought he was in love with me. I brought tarot cards to school to freak the cheerleaders out. Then I went on a school sponsored trip and got roomed with the cheerleaders. Miss goth got roomed with 3 cheerleaders. They were amazed I prayed and told me everyone thought I was worse than a non believer, won't say what they thought I was. We almost became friends. I thought long and hard about the message I was sending, and I immediately decided after three years to wear something that wasn't black. I was 15, and my boyfriend was 19. He was a bass player in a rock band, every mom's worst nightmare. I loved him(as strongly as you can at that age), but one day he walked out on me, with no warning or even a good bye. Funny, I really thought we would get married. We waited for marriage too, but of course it never happened. Then I met my now husband when I was 16, and I found out what love was. He was preppy and wore polos. I hated him for months and one day woke up after dreaming I was in love with him. I was furious because I instantly knew I did. I went on our first date wearing my Pink Floyd tee to see what he would think, and he did not care, but he didn't know who Pink Floyd was either. Oh, he was my boss by the way. I married him when I was 18, one month after my b-day. Our daughter was at the wedding. I was baptized a few months later. That is who I was. Oh, I was called Moonchild. Not very interesting, huh?

Shea said...

Ooops I just realized you wanted the cut off at age 10, sorry. You got more than you bargained for! By the time I was 10 my biggest joy was riding my bike. I forgot to mention that. I spent an entire summer riding my bike through our neighborhood.

Raccoon said...

Sorry, I don't really remember but little bits from before I was aged 10.

I do remember reading, though. Lots and lots of reading. Sixth grade, reading instead of recess. Working in the school library. I made a huge mistake there. I could've had the entire collection of Tom Swift books, except I convinced the librarian that they were good books to keep.

Oh, and tree climbing. 50 acres of land gives you lots of trees to climb. Did you know that, if the tree is young enough, if you climb near the top, it will bend over so that you can grab the next tree and swing across to it?

yanub said...

Well, I want to make a comment, but I also don't want to talk about my childhood. I guess that must seem strange to you. But I really don't like thinking too much about when I was a kid. I didn't like thinking about it even when I was a kid, at least, I remain consistent. Let's just say I was gloomy and leave it at that.

Linda McClung said...

I was definitely not a tree-climber – I was a pretty timid child. The only things I would climb were the square hay bales in the hayloft in order to reach the kittens the mama cat would try to hide from little humans like me and my siblings. I was also scared of falling through the steps in my grandma’s basement. They didn’t have backs to the steps and I was sure I could slip through at the back and fall waaay down to the floor. Hey, it seemed a lot further when you’re only a few feet tall!

I had a few plushies but I remember my Barbie Dolls much better. One of my favourites was Sabrina from Charlie’s Angels which I got from my grandparents for my birthday one year. I’d play house with them indoors.

In the summer my favourite thing to do outside was to play with the baby animals – puppies, kittens, chicks (but only when they still had their fluff), and feed the baby calves.

I was also the girl who took music lessons – organ till I was in Junior High when I started playing the flute in band class. Had a year of guitar too but didn’t keep up with it. Sports… not a chance!

I don’t remember there being anything I just had to take to school with me, but I do remember loving show and tell. I always wanted to bring something from home to show. Can’t remember anything specifically now.

Encyclopedia Brown was one of my favourite series to read. I also read the Bobsey Twins and a series about an old lady (Miss ??) who went on all kinds of adventures – outer space, you name it, she did it. Can anyone remember this series?

I had an older brother and sister. My brother would bribe me with junkfood in order to get me to help with chores in the barn in the winter. Misery likes company, I think. In hindsight I can see that because he was a boy he had to do a lot of farm work whereas because I was the younger daughter I got to play a lot. Lucky me!

I also had a brother six years younger than me and I’d have to say that at times I could be the bossy older sister to him. In particular I’d give him hassle for not cleaning up his toys and then threaten to vacuum them (and his toes!) up. I’d actually hide the toys and give them to him weeks later. But boy was he scared of the powerhead on the vacuum cleaner. I know, I could be a meanie.

cheryl g said...

Hmmm, I seem to be you. I grew up with 2 brothers and 2 sisters but I was really a loner when it came to playing. My sisters preferred to play with dolls – not my interest. My older brother was in his own very scientific world and my younger brother was a toddler. I spent my time playing in the woods around our house usually being Robin Hood. We didn’t have a dog so my plushies were the Merry Men. Mostly we had imaginary duels with King John’s lackeys. I also “borrowed” a pair of Mom’s hose to make a seine so I could catch minnows and tadpoles down at the creek. Mom was not amused.

I was a tree climber in low to the ground trees. I have always been afraid of heights so getting high off the ground was not for me. Except for climbing out my bedroom window and sitting on the porch roof. In the summer that was my favorite place to read.

I never did tea partys but my plushies and I would have picnics. My earliest remembered plushie was a little blue elephant that I took everywhere until it literally came apart. After that I had a gray kitty plushie. The kitty plushie was the Bagheera to my Mowgli or the Little John to my Robin Hood as I played in the woods. We didn’t like bugs but Smokey (the kitty plushie) was really good at finding 4 leaf clovers.

I briefly had piano lessons but Mom let me quit since I didn’t like it. I did like playing the recorder. I learned to cook at an early age. All of us kids did. I always liked baking and would help Mom in the kitchen. I also liked helping Dad and Grandpa with farm/ranch stuff or in the garage. By now you have probably figured out that I was quite a tomboy and still am. One of my favorite things to help with was bottle feeding any calves that needed it. I also liked to play in the hay barn with the barn kittens.

Once I got to school I was really shy so I was sort of friends with everyone but didn’t really have a best friend. The only one I wasn’t friends with was this one boy who punched me in the nose – so I slugged him back. He didn’t ever bother me after that.

Mom wouldn’t let me take my plushie to school but my kitty went on every sleep over, camping trip or vacation. My current traveling companions are a black kitty and a cuple of stuffed squirrels. Niblets is very small so he can go everywhere with me. He has a cell phone case he rides in.

In school I fell into the not approved of by the gym teacher group even though I wasn’t that uncoordinated. I was pretty good at dodge ball. I couldn’t do cart wheels or hand stands. I was good at softball, handball, and field hockey. I quit playing basketball after I broke my leg at practice. The girl with the ball cap and bat is definitely me.

Yep, I wore Mom made clothes and hand me downs. Once I was put in public school and didn’t have to wear the catholic school uniform anymore, Mom made my clothes. At the time little girls were expected to wear dresses at school so Mom made me matching shorts for all my dresses so I would agree to wear the dress. Out of school I wore hand me down jeans from my brother and shirts my Mom made. I had some really cool western shirts. There are pictures of me at age 3 – a little blonde girl in a sailor dress. Mom says even then she could only keep me in a dress long enough to get through church.

I was never a drawer but I have always been an avid reader. I remember Mom having a conference with the teacher when I was in 1st grade because they wouldn’t let me check Alice in Wonderland out of the school library – they wanted me to read younger kid books. Mom pointed out that I had just finished reading Ivanhoe and was reading everything I could get my hands on by Robert Louis Stevenson. I read Nancy Drew, the Bobbsy Twins, Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown, Dana Girls. I also read any Arthurian legends and the works of James Fenimore Cooper. If nothing else, I would grab a volume of the encyclopedia and start reading entries.

I often made little gifts for my Mom or Grandparents. I brought Mom many a bouquet of dandelions or wildflowers. I have always liked giving people small gifts just to make them smile. A lot of people just don’t seem to understand that. They always look for an ulterior motive.

As for siblings I was closest with my youngest brother growing up. We all played together but he and I played together most often. My sisters were too girly for me and my older brother was in his own world. We all rode bikes together and played “wagon train”. My sister M was the bossy one, N was the princess who everyone catered to. I was the quiet one who worked at not being noticed.

Tom P. said...

I was a lonely child. I was sort of shy and because of that I became the butt of jokes. I used to escape into books. I loved books and I fantasized about that Twilight Zone episode where there is a nuclear war and everyone is dead leaving just me and lots of books. Except, of course, in my version my glasses didn't break. I loved reading history but I also loved books like Encyclopedia Brown. But I was addicted to Baring-Gould's Sherlock Holmes. I read every word in both volumes. Every annotation, every story, every comment. I simply couldn't get enough of them.

Diane J Standiford said...

What a great post! I love hearing about this stuff, especially 2-10,my memories are sharp. "Stuffies" I LIKE that. I had many stuffies, no kids my age to play with. 2 nasty older brothers 7&8 yrs older, they hated me.

I was called a tomboy. No trees small enough to climb in my neighborhood. Not shy but quiet and reserved. Loved books and the library. Encyclopedia Brown a fave.
After seeing "The Miracle Worker" with Patty Duke I decided to be an actress at age 5. That never left.
My dad left day I was born, we were poor, but I never knew. We lived in apt in house my great-aunt owned(she is now 102---a true tomboy), she was my father. She and I were gift givers. I was fat and stuck up for smaller kids who were bullied. I knew by age 3 that I wanted to marry a girl. I liked shy girls. But was loner myself.
LOVED basketball, but no one to play with...horrible in gym class(fat)...skipped more school than possible but got straight A's. Played piano, forgot most. I think there are a finite type of people 0-10 and I saw them again and again as I went through life. My dresses were made by a friend of my aunt's---HATED DRESSES. HATED MY GIRL-BODY. What a fun post. You would have been in my radar as a kid. (And that's why I like you now.)

Nancy said...

I was definitely the one who played the bassoon! I wasn't very social, but I very much liked being different and quirky, so I took up the most obscure musical instrument that I could. I was an only child, and I definitely invented worlds, but usually as a way to make friends: I would write stories and invite people to identify themselves with a particular character. That was the way that I bridged myself into social interactions. :) I haven't thought about childhood in a long time--thanks for the great post, and the fun responses!

Joan K said...

I didn't climb trees often but I spent a lot of time exploring the woods near my home, playing on the RR tracks, "fishing", building forts and suchlike. I always played with the boys, never the girls. I couldn't see the point of dolls. I guess I was a dyke even then.

I was an avid reader. I took the maximum number of books out of the library every week. They told me I had a 12th grade reading level in 5th grade.

I never sewed with my mother but when I was very young I cut my hair myself with her sewing scissors. I don't remember but I'm told they had to cut my hair very short to even it out.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I don't know if I am allowed to comment since people are giving their memories, so I will try to comment in a respectful way.

Lene: I liked Lady and the Tramp too, and I remember getting talks from my grandmother about not "helping"

Victor: I'm sorry but, "I learned how to take a punch" seems like a sad statement - also a sad statement about the respect of reading. That's great, I hope if you go into dog care that works out, I know how much you love the dogs you have so I think you would be very good at it.

Actually now that you mention the hotwheels I used to carry pez dispensers which would often 'disappear' and then pen markers that 'smelled' - I guess smelling grape every now and then made a bad day a little better.

Yes, I had a few rich friends and it seemed the ratio of getting to visit them was about 1 time for every 5 visits to our place, where the most common phrase was, "I have that, I'm bored." - yeah, fun to entertain, not!

Abi: I just have to know, was you father in the SAS of did you just 'happen' to have a Zip line in the backyard - there was a park that had a zipline and then you would hit tires, I remember often I would need to be held so I slowed down as I did not like going so fast and hitting the tires and then having my feet WAY off the ground (I was like 2 or 3). In the same way there was one park - actually the one I feet the squirrels that had a two story pole to slide down, it was a kid's right of passage as there was no protection or nets. When I moved back it was gone, I guess too many broken arms - I know my brother went down it, I don't think I did, I once held onto the top but looking down I could make the jump over to the pole with my legs.

As to your three story Victorian house and the trapeze on the bottom branch...I am certain I saw this was the Addams family right? - I am jesting. but still, I can't imagine, "Daddy, can I have a trapeze please"

"Yes Abi, here you are, now go and have fun!"

That's cool you still have one of your plushies and that it isn't like a wierd fad of the time like a Michael Jackson Plushie or the like.

Yes, the classic conflict of nice clothes versus having fun, well a few grass stains later just isn't worth it is it.

Regarding reading, I also got told off a lot! And yes, it does get hot, and you start to get really sensative to every noise.

Yes, the siblings want to be with you, and you can't get away. I used to steal my brothers friends all the time and it drove him crazy, I mean they were still his friends it is just they would come to our house and I would have them showing them my (insert what interests them collection) in no time. Plus the whole, "Oh, lets play a game we can ALL play together" - I think my brother wanted to strangle me, and often did.

RachelCreative: I find that you did end up dating a boy you had a skipping contest over sort of interesting (I was going to say creepy) - was it a SMALL town. Just too much coincidence - can you imagine, "This is my boyfriend, I won him in a skipping contest at age six!"

I also love that you made a conscious rebellion and decided to be a tomboy - no more ballet! No more pink!

Yes, I used to have small villages of stuffies with jobs and such, doing a normal day. I think I liked being God.

Woah, some boy split your LIP? Wow that is harsh.

thanks, I am trying to figure out what 'boys' stuff is as an adult? Game stations? girls way younger than them? Get drunk? What is all this boy stuff I am missing out on, I want to know! I don't have a house beautiful as it is stuffed with books and old hard drives and pictures of girls hugging girls but I want this secret 'guy' stuff.

Stephanie: Oh that's cool, I made a few friendship braclets, but as I had few friends that didn't last long. And besides, I needed to open a detective agency (hey it worked in all the kids books, they always got cases!).

I'm glad you have good memories of elementary school. I know they are emotionally intense, the person you 'hate' can be your 'best friend' like two weeks later.

Alex M: Nerd/Jock is good. Does that mean you were into books a lot or into computers. Since I was into computer for a while then they got serious about them. And what kind of sports did you do? Baseball, basketball?

Thea: I think so for the cooking, I am amazed that she can do the most difficult thing as if it doesn't matter but then other things I do and she is baffled but I guess when you see your mom make X, like buns every day, it is no big deal. Do you still like to have a 'baking day'?

Actually I was on your continent several times as a child and went to most of the bookstores, so perhaps we were at the same stores, since I had to have more books, they had DIFFERENT books there than they did back home so at 10 I took home an extra suitcase of books.

Shea: Okay, I am trying to fit it together - you were called Moonchild at went to a Chistian Pentacost school - wow, they must have HATED calling roll call! Oh you had a cabbage patch doll, for some reason they were too much like humans and thus "idolity" in our little group. I always wondered who got to have one - now I know!

I sort of know what you mean as my father was a scientist so I would use words correctly, and everytime I would put up my hand asking 'Teacher, I have the urge to urinate" - there was either hysterics or I was cornered and asked to say things like that again and again. I don't see that how you spoke make you deserve being bullied!

I'm pretty sure I know what is worse than a non-believer and it starts with L.

Your romance story about figuring it out in a dream is cool, the add on about "And he was my boss" makes me want to know more, and the story is good, I think as getting married - but seriously, how could he not know who pink floyd was?

Oh, yeah, I did too with the bike at 8 - mine was called Betsy - what did you call yours?

Raccoon: was that the original Tom Swift of the Tom Swift Junior - I just looked to see if I had the two Tom swifts from my book faire stock but they were GONE - alas, I was going to send them. Oh well, I will keep an eye out.

Your version of tree climbing sounds like the squirrels and what I envisioned until I found I couldn't go to the top of a ladder - however mentally it also sounds like there was a broken limb in there at SOME point!

Yanub: I appreciate you making a comment - maybe when we do the teen one, you can project it forward to like college, if you don't want to talk about teen time either. I'm sorry this didn't bring back good memories but thanks for reading it.

Shea said...

By the time I was in high school, I had transferred to a county school. Yes, my husband was my boss at a restaurant I worked at. How crude huh? I had to practically ask him out too. I told one of the other managers I liked him and made her swear not to tell(she was famous for a big mouth). He asked me out a few hours later. Seriously, he was not getting the vibes that he was intended to marry me, so I had to take matters into my own hands. By the way, I was totally convinced Eliza was real. We had many conversations up to my teen years. I told her all my secrets. We had a fire several years back, and she was one of the first things I grabbed. I don't think I named my bike, but it was a ten speed and purple. It was the one thing I really remembered, 8th Christmas present. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Mom let me go outside and ride in in the street and it was in the middle of the night. Eliza was my most prized present, but that bike came in second. Nothing I have ever gotten since has meant as much as those things.

FridaWrites said...

Sorry to comment late--I was an avid reader too--sounds like a lot of us were. For nonfiction books, I loved ballet books and would just about memorize them. I'd check out some of the same books over and over. My bone fractures and needed home care meant my mom couldn't work and then my parents couldn't afford lessons when I got better.

I was always very much a dog person, still am. I like cats and their funny personalities but they make me sneeze.

Loved stuffed animals, dolls, and pink stuff (I was that girl). I had a yellow duck named Mayflower which I got after being really sick with suspected meningitis. She had a green checked dress and I loved her but my mom threw her out when our puppy chewed on her a little when I was 8 since my mom was obsessive compulsive. And threw out other stuffed animals because they were "dusty" while I wasn't at home. And my fisher price school playset, my favorite toy. She kept the Sesame Street one but wouldn't ever let my kids play with it. I've definitely always let my kids help decide what they want to keep and what they want to sell or donate. Some things they wanted to give away that I wouldn't let them--Mr. Bear, which my son carried around for years, and Chou Chou the doll that was my daughter's favorite. I don't know why they don't have sentimental attachment to them after being glued to them for years.

Raccoon said...

I think it was Tom Swift Junior. They weren't the originals. I remember that they had blue covers. That was, I think, either fourth or fifth grade.

Nah. I think we only went swinging like that a couple of times. We had lots of great climbing trees, though. Lots of branches. You'd never guess that I'm afraid of heights.

I've only broken two bones in my life: my fifth cervical vertebrae, and my right index finger. And both of those were at the same time, 12 years ago. No, I don't think any of my family broke any bones climbing on trees.

wendryn said...

I was the tomboy, the loner, the bookworm. I took ballet until it became clear that I didn't have much aptitude for it. i took singing lessons. My sister took piano and was frilly and cute; I liked my jeans patched because I wore through the knees so often. I loved my stuffed animals, but not one in particular until I was much older. I slept with five or six every night, but they rotated. I figured out exactly how much light I needed to read by and talked my parents into leaving the bathroom light on. :) They probably knew what was going on, but I felt a little smug about it.

I climbed trees all the time. I loved it. I fell out of them regularly, but I didn't mind. We all learned to cook early - as soon as we complained about the food for dinner, we learned to cook. I really liked it. I've always been very dependent on cookbooks, but I'm finally learning to cook by feel.

I grew up with dogs, loving them, but I didn't have my very own dog when I was little. They were constant companions, and I was very happy with them.

I was very, very shy. All the time. Tongue tied. Took years to get over it, and I still have my moments.

I like giving gifts more than receiving them. I completely understand wanting desperately to see joy on someone's face when they open a gift you found or made just for them. It's one of the best feelings in the world if it works.

I really liked this post for the insights into you and Linda. Thank you for taking the time to write and to find the perfect pictures.