Posted tagged ‘being a kid’

“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

April 5, 2016

I saw the sun this morning. The day was lovely for about a half an hour. The sky was so blue it didn’t look real. It looked painted, a combination of blues, maybe even by Van Gogh. I can hear the drops from melting snow so we’re above freezing. If this were January, I’d be happy with melting snow.

The sun has just come out again and I can see blue appearing from among the clouds. I’m hopeful that the sun will decide to stay for a while.

The Sox and the Indians were postponed yesterday because of the weather: no surprise there. The game is today and starts at one. The Sox are now being introduced to boos, of course. Most of the team is wearing the jersey head coverings just in case. The stadium is fairly empty. The announcer is wearing his winter coat.

When I was young, I didn’t care about the weather. It wasn’t as if I could do anything about it. My day to day didn’t change come rain, snow or sun. I walked to school no matter what. I tended to hurry on the rainy days and saunter on sunny days. On winter days my friends and I huddled to walk together, the better to stay warm. I remember it was hard to breathe on the coldest days and sometimes my nose would run. I’d use my sleeves for that problem because no self-respecting kid carried a Kleenex or even worse a handkerchief, besides that’s why sleeves were invented. It grossed out my mother so she’d sneak and tuck a Kleenex into my jacket pocket but it usually stayed there most of the winter. Sleeves were far more convenient.

I always moaned and groaned at the trials and tribulations of being a kid. Life was ordered so I didn’t have a whole lot of choices. What I didn’t realize was I didn’t have a whole lot of responsibilities either. I had to go to school unless I was close to dying. I had homework to do. I had to bathe occasionally. When I got home from school, I had to change from school clothes to play clothes. My vegetables had to be eaten, but my mother generally served the ones I liked so that was no big issue. I had to go to bed early on school nights. Early was contested all the time. My mother and I differed on its definition. I usually lost. That was part of being a kid: losing arguments with parent, but I’d start one anyway. I was always hopeful.

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”

July 21, 2015

Today isn’t as hot as yesterday but the humidity is still stifling. Tonight will be cooler, and the cool weather will stay around for the next few days. The sun was out earlier but now the sky is grey, a light grey which hangs around but doesn’t brings rain. The air conditioner is still on and the house is cool. I noticed my neighbors had their windows opened earlier, but they have since closed them and put the AC back on. It doesn’t take long for the heat to permeate the house.

My mother used to keep the shades down when I was a kid. All the rooms downstairs resembled caves. She said it kept the rooms cooler. I remember going inside to get a drink and waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. It was worse going back outside when I had to cover my eyes because of the brightness of the sun. My mother was never one for sun. She wore sunglasses all year, on any day with sun. We used to call her the mole.

Being a kid had such freedom attached. I don’t mean I could go and do what I wanted, but social conventions didn’t kick in until I was older. We laughed at the grossest stuff and told horrid jokes. Milk up someone’s nose was fodder for endless jibes. We thought it hysterical. I remember there was a joke phase involving Helen Keller and kids with no arms or legs and the punch lines would send us into peals of laughter. We weren’t cruel. We were just kids. Being dirty meant nothing to us. I’d grab a sandwich and not even think about washing my hands unless my mother made me. We ate dinner on the fly, no sitting down and taking our time. We wanted to finish quickly so we could take advantage of the daylight.

In summer the street light rule was not in effect. We stayed outside until it got pretty dark. I remember my neighborhood with the windows all open and living room lamps shining to break the darkness. It was as if stars had come to ground. There was a certain beauty to it all.

“I can’t tell you how many hot dogs I’ve eaten in my life.”

May 19, 2015

The day is dark, chilly and damp. Rain is expected. I’m guessing just as Gracie and I leave for the dump the skies will open and the rain will fall in sheets. I noticed the red spawn has been at the potted flowers again and there is soil all over the deck railing. This morning the spawn ran from the feeder as soon as I picked up the hose. It is wary now from too many showers. I’m thinking a slingshot.

When I was a kid, I seemed to be busy all of the time. I’d have school until 2 then rush home to play for the rest of the afternoon. My mother would call us inside close to supper time. I’d do my homework, have supper, watch some TV then get ready for bed. The day was spent in a flash. The whole week passed by almost before I’d noticed. Each Saturday and Sunday had a bit of a routine but those two days never seemed long enough.

During the summers when I was in high school, I sometimes whined and complained about having nothing to do. That drove my mother crazy. We didn’t have summer jobs back then so there was little to do all day long. What had delighted the kid me didn’t seem interesting any more. I didn’t ride my bike or walk to the pool or go to the playground. I just sighed a lot.

The summer after high school was when I got my first job: forty hours a week at Woolworth’s. It was the easiest job, and I jumped around doing all sorts of stuff to keep from getting bored. The only place I didn’t work was the food counter. I loved Woolworth’s food counter. It was straight and long with red vinyl stools moved in a circle for east seating. The women were all old, at least to me, and wore uniforms. Most had huge handkerchiefs as decorations atop their pockets. They kept pencils behind their ears. The wall had all the menu items listed including the flavors of ice cream. The dessert dishes had fluted tops. They were used for sundaes like my favorite of all, hot fudge. Real dishes were used for the sandwiches. They were whitish with a red ring around the inside rim. The hot dogs were wonderful cooked on the grill. The French fries were crisp and hot. Sometimes I’d have a grilled cheese sandwich, perfectly brown and gooey.

My mother and sister used to go to their Woolworth’s for a patty melt. The counter there was huge but divided almost into little islands each with its older lady taking orders. I went with them a few times, but it was sometimes a hot dog for me and other times a club sandwich. Colored toothpicks were in each section of the club sandwich to hold it together. The toothpicks were wooden. The sandwich was always delicious. I miss Woolworth counters.

“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”

September 27, 2014

Yippee! It is a deck day, warm and lovely. Summer just isn’t ready to leave yet, and I’m glad. Both doors are open and the air smells like cut grass. Early this morning it smelled like the ocean.

When I went to get the papers this morning, I noticed yellow leaves on the bush across the street and red leaves on my burning bush by the driveway. It seems fall is making its presence known a bit at a time.

The best part of being a kid was taking delight in so many things. I mostly remember being happy. Many adults see the world through darker glasses and have learned to be cynical and sometimes distrustful. A kid is wide-eyed. Snow is a joy not an inconvenience. Rain means puddles to run through. Grass is soft and cool and lying on it gives the best view of the summer’s night sky. A bicycle takes us away. A nickel is a king’s ransom, a treasure. Finding a bottle is another nickel, another treasure.

Being a teenager was a lot of work. I had to endure those horrific rollers in my hair, sometimes even overnight. The right clothes and shoes were a necessity. Boys got important. I seldom noticed the weather except for rain. It ruined my hair. School meant hours of homework. I did have fun with my friends and I was out most weekends, but the future was always looming.

College was work but it was fun. We partied a lot. Some weekends passed in a daze. I was far too busy with classes and weekends to notice much about the world. I had choices to make my senior year. I chose the Peace Corps, and I am forever thankful for that. All of a sudden it was a new world and I was wide-eyed again. I stopped and looked and slept outside under a billion stars. I was a little kid again.

I still stop and notice. Once relearned, it isn’t ever forgotten.

“Part of the urge to explore is a desire to become lost.”

June 14, 2014

The rain has stopped but the day is still damp and cloudy. There is such an after storm stillness that even the leaves aren’t moving. I was on the deck for a bit this morning and was surprised by how warm a morning it is. Today is a free day. I have no lists.

When I was a kid, we roamed a lot on Saturdays. On days like today my sneakers and the bottom part of my dungarees would get soaked. I never cared. The best part of being a kid was needing no sense of style or fashion. Dirt was acceptable. Fields and woods were for exploring, and rain was never a deterrent, at least not misty rain or, as my mother called it, spitting rain. The leaves always glistened when it rained, and I remember slurping rainwater from the leaves when I got thirsty. We wandered far afield usually staying in the woods or along the railroad tracks. Once we found a raft and used it to pole around a pond. The raft was made from an odd combination of wood pieces, and there were holes between the pieces so our feet were always in water. We poled a couple of times around the pond and then put the raft back where we had found it. At the swamp, we jumped across the little canals from one island to another and went as far back as we could until the underbrush was too thick and there were thorns. It was only in the winter that we could follow the swamp to where it ended.

My town had a box factory and two factories which made chemicals and all three of those factories were by the railroad tracks. We used to see the people from the box factory on their breaks. They’d be sitting outside on the steps talking together and smoking cigarettes. The factory was at the end of the tracks near what used to be the station. The windows were too high for us to see what was going on, but there were piles of unfolded boxes stacked on the loading dock. Two railroad cars were always on the tracks across from the factory. They never moved, and I don’t think they were ever used for anything. We couldn’t get into them but we did climb the steps and look wistfully inside.

We were gone all day, but my mother never worried even though she didn’t know where we were. When we were leaving, she’d ask where we were going. We never knew so our answer was always,”Around.”