Friday, March 5, 2010

Childhood Memories

Below is a submission for my creative writing class. It is supposed to be an essay about a childhood memory or my mother. And then I am supposed to find a web-site or blog to post on -- what better place than my own blog...

Childhood is supposed to be a time of nurturing, growth and learning how to be an emotionally healthy person. It is supposed to be a time where the child has no cares, no worries, and is allowed to be a child through playtime, imagination, coloring or whatever suits the child’s fancy. I was number five in a family of seven. By the time my first little sister was born my mother was on her third husband, and he was no prize winner. I refer to my childhood as several stages, pre-step father years and the stepfather years. When my stepfather first appeared in my life I had thought him to be a nice grownup, I thought we were going to have a family. Prior to my stepfather, we had been a family of five. My mother’s second husband, my father, was in the Navy and at sea a lot. My mom was home with all of us kids. These years I was the baby, my brothers and sister my constant source of entertainment. I clearly remember trying to follow them around at age three, being taken home by one of my brothers. I watched them play with their bikes in the front yard. When they were at school I constantly asked my mom when the boys were coming home. All of this was yanked away when my brothers went to live with their father and my mother and father got divorced. It was then three of us, my mother, me and my sister. When mom went back to being a nurseI had to go to daycare; I was woken up before the sun came up, carried out to the car, still in my pajamas and then dropped off. The first daycare was an old couple. I think I was too much for them because I didn’t stay there too long; soon I was in a regular daycare facility. My mother got remarried and we moved from San Diego to Virginia. I was old enough for school now and entered pre-school well schooled in the ways of the class room.

This is when I realized that my stepfather was not who he had appeared to be. Gone was the nice man who would read a bedtime story to me. Gone was the man who would make me pancakes on Saturday morning and let me watch cartoons while I ate. He was replaced with an angry person, who would tell me my pictures were awful, my dress was ugly and I was stupid. Being only six, I would look at my pictures and redraw them over and over, I couldn’t do anything about my clothes, and well as far as stupid I wasn’t too sure about that. Soon we moved to Chicago and shortly after that to a Chicago suburb. The constant moving made it very hard for me to gain friendships and form bonds. I went to four elementary schools, two junior highs and four high schools. This coupled with the constant verbal and sometimes physical abuse I soon learned to become invisible, to not be noticed. In my little mind if I wasn’t noticed then nothing bad would happen to me.

During the summer months I would spend endless hours outdoors, creating make believe worlds for myself. The giant jungle gym became my deserted island and the climbing tree my club house. When I clamped my rusty metal skates over my shoes and skated down the side walk I was a world famous ice skater capable of doing jumps, spins and twirls. Balancing on the curb I was the Olympic gymnast Olga Korbut about to do my gold medal performance. I would lie in bed at night staring at the ceiling and dream of the large family I was supposed to be living with, my many horses and of course I had my own room. In the winter I would ice skate outdoors along with all the neighborhood kids. My ankles wobbled in my used skates. I had a jumbled mess of outer clothes on: mismatched mittens, a bright hand crocheted hat and of course the handed down coat that was at least 2 sizes too big. I never quite fit in. When I got tired of skating I would carve seats in the snow banks and create a little restaurant where I served pretend lunches to my pretend friends. I would dread going home, even though it was getting dark and my feet and nose were frozen. I knew when I got home I would be berated and yelled at.

My dreams and imagination both got me through many years of turmoil and kept my spirit from being defeated. It is this creative spirit within my soul that I have kept with me, it couldn’t be silenced. I think this may have made my step-father hate me even more. He could never break my spirit. When my children were young we played together with Legos, created miniature towns out of blocks and books, played with trucks and made big snow forts. We shared many close moments together, not because I sat with them and shared with them my words of wisdom, but because I would get down on their level and played, I let them be children. I taught them how to laugh when other people called them names. When my oldest son got his first pair of glasses (which happened to be bifocals) and he was made fun of, called four eyes for the first time his response back was, “No really I have 6 eyes”. I taught my kids how to use their imaginations. I taught them it was okay to make mistakes, learn from them and move forward. I praised them, loved them and let them eat pancakes while they watched cartoons.

I may not have had the happiest childhood, and may not have many fond memories…but I did create a wonderful world for myself to escape to, and that I wouldn’t change for the anything.

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