She was a funny little thing that childhood me – skin and bone, short curly hair, dreams and fancies. She used to like to pretend she knew Joan of Arc personally. She was riding in her army. She stopped her burning at the stake.
She loved to pretend she was Heidi, and so when taking her lunch of bread rolls made by Dad to school, she wrapped them up in red checked tea towel. She imagined she was in the Swiss Alps.
She hated having her photo taken, well that is if she was being forced to look into the sun. She remembers one day having to pose on the sand with her Dad, whilst she was scowling and saying ’when will this be over Mum’ and before you know it the polaroid image was taken, and froze her forever in scowls.
She had intense feelings, that didn’t always lead her down the right path. I remember a particularly bad day when she broke a friend’s doll because he wouldn’t let her play with it, and yet everyone else had, had a turn.
What a jealous little child – to run away with the doll and lob it into a sand pit, well that’s how I remember it. The doll wore a velvet red dress, had long golden locks and she was so beautiful you wanted to dress her up and brush her hair again and again. I always wanted to own a doll like that, to think I actually hurt her still gives me a rapid butterfly tummy moment (she was repaired and duly not bought to school again, unless shared on a roster with all the other kids.)
I remember her many sleepless nights after that, where the ghost of that damaged doll came knocking at her window and gave that funny childhood me the heeby jeeby’s. That’s childhood guilt for you. I still don’t like those glass eyed dolls much though.
That funny child makes me laugh, because she cannot see into her future – the children she will have, the life she will lead and the humour she will see in her many learning experiences. Her children will not be hungry or want for toys and books in their childhood, but they will be tested in other ways.
I love her intensity and passion though, as she writes poems about seeds falling to plant themselves in the ground and then grow, dreams about the book written by her that friends and family will oneday borrow from the local library, and dreams of freedom from her three brothers who are driving her up the wall. She knows what it is to do without, and the bad breath that hunger brings.
She doesn’t know her wishes will come at a cost, and that she’ll remember their happy childhood excursions with a nostalgic sadness.
Once all her brothers and she all played shops with coins made from rusted tin, cricket and climbed trees together. She was the cool tom boy big sister who saw herself as the ring leader of their games.
Along the way the second in line, her now lost brother, usurped her throne and she was banished from the cricket games for ‘being a girl.’ She turned to books and journals and struggled with being the outsider amongst her siblings. She dreamt of sisters, aunties, and formed attachments beyond family to fill the loneliness.
She grew up, to become me, and had friends who were brothers and sisters, tried desperately to outrun the family who had partly raised her, and then one day her heart returned home and forgave them and herself.
I stand at the threshold of those memories and pat her gently on the back.
Time to remember that which hurts, that which heals and that which gives peace. Sometimes it’s good to just chuckle at the follies of our childhood and youth.
And every now and then a gleam drop of joy falls.
I hold out my hand to her and beckon her forth – funny little thing that childhood me – skin and bone, short curly hair, dreams and fancies.
Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.