Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Top Ten Reasons to....

I truly enjoyed childhood.  I grew up when parents ruled, kids didn’t question them and most people seemed…happy.  I was free to use my imagination (as long as no one got hurt, at which time you might‘ve been offering an explanation to more than 1 set of parents) and no one had to “show” me how to play.  We knew to look both ways before crossing the street and to stay out of traffic, even if we rode bikes without being bubble wrapped to protect every square inch of skin.  How else did you learn without the aid of scrapped knees and Methiaid/Mecuricrome….also known to kids as “that red stuff which hurts more than what’s bleeding!”?  We played outside until dark and during southern summers, you didn‘t need your Mama to call you home because the arrival of mosquitoes was warning enough. Being a kid was a good gig.

No, I haven’t developed a Peter Pan complex; I think that’s reserved for grown men who act like 10 year olds.  But around the age of 8, a trepidation about growing up started to blossom.  It began, innocently enough, after holiday meals when two non-gift giving traditions occurred.  They will be the first 2 of my Top Ten Reasons to Stay a Kid as Long as Possible.

Kitchen Duty: I loved being in a kitchen while stuff was cooking. It was that follow up ritual I dreaded.  I grew up in the South during the 60s.  Women’s Lib arrived in the 70s.  This explains why after every holiday meal, the women headed BACK to the kitchen.  Not only did they fix the meal, they did the dishes while the men retreated to another room to talk.  I don’t think watching football started until my teens. I had “Towel Duty”, meaning I silently dried dishes while the women discussed topics which made me believe adulthood might be boring. Or deadly. Sales at the grocery store.  The latest fashions.  Bills.  Soap Operas.  Birthing babies.  About the time THAT topic made me squirm, they would remember my presence and change the subject.  Back to who’s got what on sale, where. 
Up side: this is why God invented a guy to invent the dishwasher.  And a gal to demand equal rights.
Knowing names: After the dishes were done, the women all went to another room to chat.  Most conversations were like this.  “You remember!  That’s John’s wife Sally’s cousin’s brother’s boy, Ted.  Yes, I think he married cousin Lula’s brother’s wife’s next door neighbor.  The ones who lived down the street from the Browns.  No, you’re thinking about the Smith’s, whose son John married that Hall girl who’s kin to Uncle Gene’s daughter’s husband.”  All I could think was: my family knows EVERYONE on the planet!  And if you had to know ALL of that when you grew up, I wasn’t interested.
Up side: I’m great with names. 

Frying bacon: Watching Mom cook breakfast bacon seemed like an exercise in wonderful smells and battle scars.  If you had to get popped and smacked with hot oil when you grew up, I was going to live a bacon free adulthood.
Up side: The reward for winning the bacon battle is the joy of a good BLT.

Poker hierarchy: I grew up in a household which played Scrabble, Yahtzee and card games.  But as much as I liked to hear my Dad chatter during Poker (I’d later realize he was trying to tell me if I was working on a good hand) it made me feel stupid that I knew Aces and Kings were good, but I could never remember what beat what.  I can still see the look on my Dad’s face when he asked me if I was in or not.  With little girl confusion I replied, “I don’t know if  I’ve got anything good.” 
    He replied patiently, “Just this once, tell me what you have and the next time you’ll know.”
    “Well,” I began hesitantly, “I have three Jacks and two 10s”.
    Dad folded. 
Up side:  Blackjack is easier.

Going to the dentist… on purpose: I couldn’t believe people voluntarily signed up to be tortured by a man who claimed to be a doctor as he scrapped your mouth with sharp metal instruments.  And then you paid him.  I don’t know what my childhood dentist ate right before my after school appointment, but his stomach made the most awful sounds while he worked.  You ever have a stomach growl AT you?  Like Chewbacca?
Up side: I have a cool, young dentist who treats me like a person…and doesn’t have growling body parts.

Math: I loved words as a kid…and hated numbers.  Math drove me nuts simply because I was a shy kid too afraid to ask for a better explanation of fractions, geometry and don’t even get me started on x+y=if a train leaves the station going north at 95 miles an hour.  Sigh.  Until I learned to speak up and ask questions, Dad referred to me as his little “mathematical idiot.”  That wasn’t bad. Trying to understand algebra while the teacher wrote with one hand and erased with the other as I practiced speed writing turned me against math.  Period.
Up side: As Dad also use to say, “Add a $ sign and she’s good to go.”

Ironing: Cotton is a wonderful, cool, natural fabric.  And it is the most evil piece of cloth that ever needed to be ironed.  That chore was one of the few things I SWORE I would not do when I grew up.
Up side: As you grow, so does modern technology which constantly evolves.  I love the one which made clothes (and I don’t mean polyester!) that don’t need ironing. 

Eating broccoli: Of all the childhood, “but you have to at least take a bite and try it!” culinary encounters, I dreaded broccoli the most. Okay, it was really tuna, but that’s not a dreaded vegetable.  So Mom camouflaged it with cheese sauce.  And I learned to eat it because…
Up side: I learned how to make a mean cheese sauce.

Window shopping:  As a kid I could never appreciate the joy of looking at stuff, sometimes for hours, and not BUYING anything.  Oh sure, later on I’d understand that it was like research.  The precursor to buying…until you either had enough funds or the thing went on sale.  It didn’t exactly turn me into a fashionista,  although I enjoyed the snack at the Drug Store which followed the conclusion of “looking”.
Up side: I can shop in less than an hour.  For anything.

Rules… for EVERYTHING: Well of course there had to be guidelines for life.  Even a kid knew that.  No dessert until after dinner.  Bed times.  Homework.  No peeking at Christmas presents until Christmas actually arrived.  (I may be the only kid in the history of that holiday who never had an urge to even try…because I believed Santa would know and skip over me).  There were the rulebook rules, like coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, and the Dad version, “There is no such thing as offensive driving, it’s all defensive!”  As a kid, I wondered if there was any part of the day that wasn’t regulated.  I mean, with all the money adults had and the fact they could do anything they wanted, any time they wanted….
Up side: Adults rule.  Sure, there are bills to pay, dental appointments, traffic jams and Christmas gifts to buy.  But we do get a say in the path for our own journey. 

Besides, so far today, no one’s demanded that I calculate where that train is going to end up…and why.


Ponita in Real Life said...

We had the same childhood... except for Chewbacca the dentist. How did he keep the hair out of your mouth? Or was that really dental floss... ;-)

savannah said...

perfect! you made me smile, sugar. and i have not been in the smiling mode today...*sigh* xoxoxoxo

(no need for a casserole, everyone is ok. i'm just blue.)

hope said...

Ponita: does that mean our birth year is showing? :) Oh that poor dentist, now gone, even had one of those darn "spitoon" sinks at the side of the chair. I DO NOT miss those!

Sav: anything to make you smile. I could almost imagine you sitting in the room with me when the "name game" began. And with your filled house, you're entitled to a blue moment or two...just don't stay in a funk. Talk to us. xx

mapstew said...

I've been doing this all week! (It MUST be an age thing?)

Ma & Big Sis were pregnant together four times, so my nephews are almost the same ages as my younger brothers. During school holidays we would stay in each others homes for days or even weeks at a time. Most days we would be off out the door straight after breakfast, the whole family gang of us, off to the river and the fields, to return only when hungry! Happy days!

(We used Iodine for the scrapes!)

Love this piece hope! :¬)


hope said...

Map: sadly I fear it is because my 11 year old nephew doesn't understand the concept of "Go play!" without some form of help.

I think Mecurichrome was the brand name here for that red iodine substance that hurt like hell! :)

Bill ~ {The Old Fart} said...

Reading this I got thinking about my Childhood. I think all our Mothers had the workout with frying the Bacon. I too love a good BLT.