Over the years, in conversations with my mom, I’ve heard her say more than once “I know you guys didn’t have the best childhood, but…” or “We really didn’t have much when you girls were growing up, but we did the best we could…”.
However, I have to disagree. At least with the first statement. I know we didn’t have much, but that is something that I was not aware of until I was older. When I think back to my childhood, I have great memories. Memories that, no matter how I try, can never be recreated for my girls. Mainly because we are living in a different world now.
My girls can’t just run the neighborhood like we could. They can’t go off and ride their bikes on their own and go to the park and not come home until they’re hungry. I’m really sad about that. But these are different times. And there are too many horror stories on the news. I’m sure that with all of the great people in our town watching out for them, they would probably be fine. But we’ll never know because it will never happen. Our neighbors are people that we’ve known all of our lives. My neighbor, Jim, likes to tell me stories about my dad when he was about Hannah’s age. It’s funny because when I tell Katie stories about when I was little and all of the things that Tana and I did for fun, her eyes get as big as saucers. She just can’t fathom being able to go off on her own anywhere.
My sister and I were a couple of yard apes. Seriously. We were little heathens always playing in the dirt or in the trees or somewhere outside. And if we weren’t outside, we were sneaking out of the house when we were supposed to be taking a nap.
I can remember walking up to the little store to buy my dad cigars (because you could totally do that back then) and getting pooped on by a bird. Walking into the store crying and the old guy working in there helping me get the poop out of my hair and then giving me a Big Red (in a glass bottle, of course) from the pop machine.
I can remember riding my bike down this hill that seemed huge to me then, but when I look at it now, barely seems like a hill at all.
I remember stuffing grass down the neighbor girl’s diaper and then blaming my sister when questioned by the little girl’s parents. 🙂
I remember sitting at the end of the driveway and throwing rocks at cars driving past. I also remember getting my butt beat over that. I told you we were heathens. Which is so funny because lots of people in this town always tell me that I was such a sweet little girl. Maybe I was just a good actress. 😉
The best memories I have are from between the ages of 5 and 10. You know, before boys entered the picture and life was free of drama and all of the theatrics that go along with being a teenage girl. My sister and I were little outlaws. Always looking for an adventure and usually finding one. Getting into fights with other little yard apes around town. I was the fierce protector of my little sis. And she was a brat, so she usually needed lots of protecting. 🙂
I can remember laying on the couch at my baby-sitter, Jenetta’s house and watching Popeye cartoons. Jennetta, who I still see at church on Sundays and sometimes pass by her as we are both out walking in the evenings. It seems like there was some kind of train set or something on the floor, but maybe I’m confusing that with Mae’s house. (Chris, if you’re still reading, maybe you could answer that one for me.)
Mae was another favorite baby-sitter. At Mae’s house, we got to help feed the horses and play in the barn. At Mae’s house is where I got my first taste of chewing tobacco. One of her sons told me it was candy. It smelled like candy to me so I took a big ol’ bite. I see him every once in a while and we still laugh about that. I drive by that house every day and always it puts a smile on my face.
I remember that I loved school. I loved every single thing about it. That love quickly disappeared when I hit high school, but grade school was a wonderful place for me.
About my mom, I remember that she used to throw us really great birthday parties with lots of our friends. And chocolate cupcakes with icing in all the colors of the rainbow. And fun games and lots of balloons. My mom could really throw a good party. You know, just a good old fashioned birthday party. No themes or elaborate things like people do now. Just balloons and streamers and fun games like pin the tail on the donkey and guess the number of jelly beans in the jar, etc.
She used to take us with her to the laundromat on the weekends. We’d climb around on the folding tables and make up different games to play while at the laundromat. And beg and plead with her to give us change for the gumball machines.
About my dad, I remember that he was always a jokester (and still is). Always making us laugh. Pinning us down and tickling us til we thought we were going to die. One of his favorite things to do was tickle us until we would scream “I can’t breathe, Daddy!” And then he would laugh and say “You better or you might die.” and then just crack up at how witty he was. On Saturdays, he used to lift weights while rockin’ out to CCR or The Eagles. And we used to sit and watch him and sing along with the music.
I remember riding my bike to my friend’s house and getting chased by a mean dog. I called my dad when I got to the friend’s house and he walked over to get me carrying a billy club in case the dog came back. My daddy was my hero that day. He still is.
So, maybe my parents remember it differently. I know I often think that I wish I could give more to my kids, probably they thought the same, but when it’s all said and done, if they look back someday and have memories that are even close to being as good as the ones I have, then I will be happy.
And the greatest thing that my parents ever did for me was to teach me about Jesus. Like a lot of kids, I went through that rebellious phase that started in my teens and lasted right up until my first child was born, when I thought I was the only one that mattered and I didn’t care about the things that I did or the choices I made. But always in the back of my mind, I knew that I needed to get my act together. And eventually I did, though I’m still learning all the time. If it weren’t for my parents making sure that Jesus was a part of my life, I don’t know if I would have. So, for that I am extremely grateful.