The Month of 30: Childhood

"Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows." -John Betjemen

Ah, childhood; the time when you are seemingly invisible.  No worries, the world is your playground, and you are shielded from the other side of life that houses cruelty, darkness, doubt, and a handful of other things that turn children into teenagers and then into adults.  

My childhood was a pretty normal, early 80s, childhood.  My brother and I spent a lot of time outside, played Nintendo, went fishing, drank Kool-Aid, and had our favorite toys.  We stayed home with our Mom while Dad went to work every day.  We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Spaghetti-Os, and hot dogs.  We fought some, played some more, fought some more.  It was typical.  It was normal.

I was a happy kid, or so I have been told.  I don't remember much before the age of five, but the pictures I have seen seem to prove what my parent's always told me.  Being a little girl was fun.  My little brother, only 15 months younger than I, was my playmate and my best friend.  Mom was OUR best friend.  We did everything together, just the three of us.  When Dad was off work and it was nice out, we went fishing or we played in the yard.  We helped with the gardening and we had chickens.  I never felt out of place, unwanted, or unloved.  

I started Kindergarten in August of 1988.  I had my nap mat, my teddy bear art box, my new backpack, and new clothes.  I was excited for school.  I couldn't wait to go and learn things, play with other kids my age, have snacks, and nap.  It was a big, new adventure and only something I had seen other kid's do on TV or in books.  I was a smart kid.  I wasn't afraid of trying new things or learning.  I wasn't afraid of anything really, except thunderstorms.  

Once I started school, my sense of security changed.  I did my best to fit in and to be nice, but I soon started realizing that maybe that wasn't enough.  Kids can be cruel, but most of the time, they know not what they do.  They learn by example.  My parent's always tried to raise my brother and I to be respectful, honest, and friendly.  Some kids didn't have parents like mine.  Some kids were just plain mean.

It wasn't until about the second grade that I actually knew I was different.  I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew I wasn't like all the other kids my age.  I just didn't feel "normal".  To this day, I couldn't tell you what changed my way of thinking.  It is almost like I just woke up one morning, went to school, looked around and said to myself, "You aren't like these other kids, Sara.  You won't ever be.  Accept it now." 

I reached puberty before most girls did back then-I was 10.  It was devastating.  I really knew I was different then.  I withdrew more.  My books were my friends, my real friends.  Did I go to other girls houses for sleepover's and party's?  I did, but I think they only invited me because they felt sorry for me.  I tried to have fun.  I remember the girls and I remember some of the things we did, but my more happier memories with girlfriend's came years later, when I found a group that accepted me for me.

I know a lot of people say their childhood was rough, and there are so many reason's that it can be.  I made mine rough on myself.  Instead of just trying to be a kid, I kept concentrating on the idea and the feeling that I was different.  That idea made me an outcast.  When the old adage is tossed around that your enemies can smell your fear and they feed off of it, it's true.  They knew I was scared of them, they knew I was insecure. They fed off of me because I didn't know how to fight back then.

I have a lot of great memories from family times from my childhood and those counterbalance the horrible school memories.  Sometime's people say, "Ah, to be a kid again," and I think, "No, that's okay.  I will stay right here in adulthood."

I will stay right here because I know how to fight now and I know what my differences are and how to use them, but it took a whole slew of years and a lot of fight to figure it all out and get me where I am today. 

That was a lot of work and I don't wish to repeat it.

"What we remember from childhood we remember forever-permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen." -Cynthia Ozick

Until next time,

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