A few nights ago I was joyfully traipsing through the dreamscape of my mind when a completely unrequested memory popped into my head. Now I love to reminisce about my childhood, but I would prefer to do it on my schedule. I was a happy child. I was blissfully ignorant of the ills in the world. However, there are always a few memories that were less than stellar.
I was probably in my middle single digits, six maybe seven years of age. It was in Saint John New Brunswick, Island View Drive to be exact. I am pretty sure it was in the summer because it was light out and we usually ate dinner at 6 o’clock. How is that for a memory 50 years later? I don’t recall what the dinner was but I do recall that it was accompanied by peas. I hated the peas. Now you have to understand, at that age I knew everything. I was not just smart, I was a genius. I knew how the world worked and I was going to get around to conquering it someday after nap time. I was a cocky little snot. The next problem with that is that I was only cocky in my head. I was a first-class coward and a wimp. There was a yellow stripe running down the middle of my back and I worked damn hard for it.
But I digress. The memory that has me so at odds is of a dinner that I remember only part of, the part I hated. In those days we didn’t understand about sautéing or steaming and such terminology as today. Our cooking skills have since developed beautifully. But then we just boiled everything. We boiled things until they were passed dead. The peas that arrived on my plate that day were horrible. At least to me. So when my mother wasn’t looking, I removed them from my plate. The deal at the time was if you finish your dinner you got dessert. I would willingly have foregone dessert but you also could not leave the table until you had at least finished your vegetables. I was alone at the table because everyone else had eaten their dinner, their desert, their coffee or tea and left.
Ever an inventive child I thought I would fool my mother. I tucked all those peas underneath the plate where I couldn’t see them so of course my mother couldn’t either. Awwww, the arrogance of youth, the naïveté. My mother simply picked up the plate, scooped the peas back on, reheated them in more boiling water and presented them in front of me once again. Mothers always know!
I don’t know how long it took me but I did eventually finish those damn peas!
I take great comfort from the memories from my childhood because it was such a wonderful time. I had my moments of angst but it’s like returning to a favorite book, a lovely visit.
I have a very strong memory of being a child falling asleep in the back seat of my parent’ s car. My father would gently pick me up and I would be half asleep as he carried me into my bed. I remember feeling safe, protected, loved. This is a wonderful memory. Unfortunately not every child out there has had the same experience in their childhood.
I was born in the usual manner. I had a father, a mother, a brother, and a sister. At that time that was all I had. I was also naked and defenseless. The others provided for my meager needs. I might add that I also had a pair of lungs on me even then that could shatter plastic. My mother tells a story about when I first came home from the hospital. I was laying on a bed somewhere, in our house, and my brother came into the room. He had taken off as I was arriving because I was a ‘girl’!!!! Yech! My mother maintained that he had a bit of an attitude about his new sister. He came in the room and pointed a finger aggressively at me. Being a red-head, a woman in training and basically just as loaded with attitude as my big brother, I grabbed the finger and held on. He has been my favorite big brother ever since. And I have always been his favorite red-headed sister. Our sister is a brunette.
When I think back on my childhood, certain incidents stand out. It is also true that remembering through the luxury of time does not always make for the most accurate of recollections. However, there are those memories that are indelibly etched in the mind and no matter how hard you try, they just will not go away. Such is the recollection of running away from home.
As I mentioned earlier, I am a red-head. As is my brother , my sister escaped our plight by having hair the colour of dark mahogany. All of us are independent, opinionated (I mean that in the nicest possible way), and we all enjoy life. Of course, that was not always the way. I don’t remember all the arguments I had with my mother. I probably forgot them a few minutes after I was punished. But I do remember one incident when I tried to run away from home. I was probably yelling and saying awful things and then I did what I thought would hurt my mother the most: I threaten to run away from home. Now, one would have thought that the threat alone would have been enough to bring my mother to her knees, begging me to stay and that she would give me anything not to leave. Well, you don’t know my mother. She calmly said “ok” and helped me pack! I think the farthest I got was the end of the driveway. It hadn’t worked out the way I had planned. I was going to join a circus (it was unimportant that there wasn’t one close) and my mother would spend the rest of her life regretting driving me away. She would pine for my presence. She would……well you get the picture. Instead I hung my head and went back. My mother gave me a hug and probably a glass of milk and a cookie. It’s a mom thing. Wonderful childhood memories.