Hanging in our hayloft:
Everything about our hayloft in the ramshackle barn on our farm in Greendale resonates with me: the smell, the dustiness, the seclusion, the hiding, the flirting with our male Sunday visitors, and, best of all, when my dad would come up and tell us stories in the hayloft as we lay nestled in our dusty fort. Plus, I had my first kiss in that hayloft. (That doesn't count the one I had to give while playing the mother in the play “Cheaper By the Dozen” in 10th grade to my very nerdy husband. In his defense, I was also very nerdy.)
Playing in the pool of ANY motor hotel, no matter how grungy, anywhere along Interstate 5.
On vacations, we always begged for a motel with a pool and we three kids would have hours of enjoyment cavorting in the water. I have no idea what we did since there were no water toys, no floaties, and no waterslides, but somehow we managed to whoop it up until our dinners at Denny's or other freeway chain restaurant joints. Now I can’t get into water that’s colder than 90 degrees, hence the propensity for baths and beach vacations in Thailand.
Picking all the recyclables (and other trash) out of my grandparents’ rubbish and setting up shop with my brother Anthoney on the step bench that Omi used to hang her laundry on.
We would play for hours with empty bottles of detergent and 7Up bottles and empty cereal boxes and tin cans. It was pure, dirty, toxic joy.
Playing in our backyard sandbox that our many barn cats used as a kitty litter box.
We spent endless hours either using it as a bakery where we made elaborate mud cakes out of my mother's Tupperware jelly molds and tuna fish cans or as a warzone with plastic soldiers and ocassionally Barbies. And who can forget the time we made Torsten Zinnamen, our very gullible next door neighbor, eat sand? Good times…
Playing Barbies with my sister, Nicole.
Because she is four years younger than I am, I had the excuse to play with these ghastly representations of womankind well into my teenage years without too much guilt. The hours of fun we would have cutting up my brother’s tube socks to make dresses, trimming their hair and creating little houses made out of shoe boxes and furniture out of Kleenex boxes and fabric remnants and pieces of firewood. (We really loved when my brother would join in on the fun with his GI Joe and Big Jim action figures.) And who could forget Coly losing all of Ken’s detachable beard, mustache, goatee and sideburns accoutrements she received on Christmas eve the very next day? The good news was, his brown and white checked blazer and turtleneck remained part of the Barbie collection for a very long time.
Sitting on the chesterfield with my cousin Jolene, going through the Sears Catalog page by page.
On one side, I got first pick of the model in the prettiest clothes (or sometimes just the prettiest model) and on the other side, Jolene got to pick. Then our models would have imaginary conversations with one another involving dates and having babies and party planning. It got very silly when we got to the lingerie section...
Hosting talk shows in my good friend, Kristi Martens’ closet, while in our bathrobes.
We would take turns being the famous guest and the other being the host. We’d put on elaborate shows where I began to develop a clear vision for my future path (that I am still on).
Debbie Ewert and I painting our nails with coloured pencils.
This was a trick she showed me that she must have learned from her more worldly friends in Delta. We used pink and red pencil crayons, dipped them in water, and got gorgeous nails that we would try to hide from our mothers. We tried it on our lips as well and probably our eyes. Good times!
Sitting in the same room with my good buddy Cheryl Penner and writing letters back and forth to one another, while pretending to be someone else.
They went along the lines of: “Dear Jessica, Your haircut is so gorgeous. Wherever did you get it done? I am in Hawaii now on a business trip, but I shall be back in time for the ball. Have you had your gown designed yet?” “Dear Felicity, My life is going swimmingly. I’ve just returned from an ocean cruise where I met a famous movie star. We are planning to wed in the fall. You shall simply have to come!”
Picking berries in the summer.
Even though we had to get up at an ungodly hour for summer vacation, I would have whole mornings together with my friends, picking both blueberries and raspberries (much pricklier!) into ice cream buckets tied around our waists with rope. We’d laugh and eat copious amounts of berries, get scolded by the berry bosses for not cleaning the bushes well enough, laugh some more, and we’d get paid EVERY DAY! (Then we’d ride our bikes to the local IGA store or the Circle Café and buy Bottle Caps and soda and WigWag bars and bags of salt and vinegar potato chips and Hawkins Cheezies. I’d often eat my stash under the house in the cellar where it was cool and dank and I had set up my own little hangout to get away from my pesky little sister. Of course, I had to share it with the spiders and the silverfish and sit on a hard concrete floor, but I spent many an hour down there reading Trixie Belden mystery books with a flashlight, eating my junk food and trying to figure out how to shave my legs with my mother’s razor.
The memories are endless; these are just what pop into my mind now, but it does remind me that the richness of childhood consists of the small pleasures, not the big momentous occasions.
My goal for my gals:
- To make sure they have plenty of their own time to establish their own memories without me supervising their every move.
- To keep them away from Barbies (especially Barbies in tube socks ) in spite of my perverse fondness for them.
- To make sure they have summer jobs that keep them busy and well fed.
- To make sure there is plenty of time to hang out, imagine and play.