Childhood Memories (Mar 1996)

The front cover is a picture of me, a four-and-a-half year old riding my trusty steed. I enjoyed visiting Grandma’s, and riding her goat was fun. I was about the right weight so Grandma allowed me to ride her, but my brothers were heavier so they had to ride the pigs, which was much harder, for they squealed as they ran and we usually ended up in the dirt. Living close to animals teaches children the basics of unconditional love.

I remember what a busy year it was for me … I kept getting throat infections so I had my tonsils taken out, I had one eye set on fire while playing with a smouldering stick and therefore had to get glasses, I lost a few teeth and started school. I can remember sitting in our station wagon, staring at the building with all the kids running around and wondering, “Is this what I want to do … leave my Mom and go inside?” Mom talked to me and I got a chance to wander around checking this place out before making my final decision. Soon I was in grade one, the teacher passed out workbooks and showed us how to fill in the pages. At the end of the assignment we were told to turn the workbooks back in without our names on them and I fretted because I realized that I had done ten or twelve pages and I should have done only two or three and wondered if they would know it was me and if I would get in trouble.

I still believed in Santa Claus and didn’t understand gift giving. Just before Christmas, Dad took us kids to the department store to buy gifts. I had traded names with a girl in my class. I remember Daddy lifting me high up so I could see the array of toys. I chose a ball and jacks game because that is what I would have wanted. I pleaded with Dad to buy me a set, but he said “No, Christmas is for giving.” But I really wanted a ball and jack set, so as soon as Dad turned his head, I shoved a set in my pocket. When we got home I was happy to go to my room and play … with my new jacks. Sometime later, Dad walked into my room, and since I was so engrossed in my new game I didn’t hear him, but I could see the fire in his eyes, and the chase was on. I ran into the bathroom and tried to hide behind the door. I ducked fast as the clothes rack that was hung low for us kids came swinging towards me, almost taking out one of my eyes. I was spanked, and sent to my room to pray that I wouldn’t go to hell for stealing. I didn’t understand what praying for forgiveness meant but I tried my best. That stimulated my interest in making deals with God but he never seemed to be really listening, so I eventually figured out that he was busy with bigger problems than bothering me.

That spring one of my uncles came to baby-sit us. I didn’t like him and pleaded with my Mom to let me go to Bonnie’s, my girlfriend across the road. “He has all of my brothers to take care of: surely he wouldn’t notice me gone,” I thought. After Mom left, I phoned Bonnie, who came over to my house and pushed the baby buggy under my bedroom window. I climbed out and into the buggy as she continued to push it to the end of the driveway. I then jumped out and waved good-bye to my uncle, so he wouldn’t worry and start a search. We then ran to her house. I learned to figure out what was best for me and if I had a good reason, I usually didn’t get punished by Mom.

That summer we had a grand time as we journeyed across the States. We visited the forty-foot statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe in Minnesota, toured the Grand Canyon, and explored some of the caves. As we continued West we got to sleep in the California redwoods. We visited Aunt Aileen for she had money and could afford to take us Disneyland, Marineland and much more. We then swung North and checked out Canada before heading back to Michigan.

The following year Mom and Dad decided to move to BC, so they bought a school bus and converted it into a home with all of our belongings. They decided they had had enough of city life and wanted to experience roughing it. We drove for most of the summer till we got to the end of the road which was near the Nass Valley and the town of Terrace. Mom bought Betsy, the cow, Granddad wanted pigs to help him root out the weeds so we could plant a garden, and of course, no place would be home without chickens. I enjoyed being responsible for feeding the chickens, especially in the spring when some of the hens sat too long on their eggs and they hatched into baby chicks. Knowing each chicken and its personality was a delight. We brought with us several Siamese cats and Beagle dogs, and I got to help Mom sell the kittens as it was usually a full-time job keeping them in the box.

On Sundays, either Granddad or Dad would make us designer pancakes. We described how we wanted the circles joined together as they poured the batter onto the hot stove top. One cold winter afternoon, Dad took some time off to play with us kids. We got down on all fours and crawled as fast as we could through Dad’s open legs as he sat on a chair. The goal was to make it through his legs without getting caught. After my third or fourth time through and having gotten squeezed everytime, I got upset and put my hands on my hips and shouted at Dad: “Don’t you know how to play with kids?… You have to let kids win once in a while or we won’t play with you.” He was speechless as his mouth dropped open and my brother made it through unsqueezed.

Kids live in the here and now … that is where joy is. When we are young, we haven’t yet learned to censor our feelings. We feel and accept whatever comes up. Parents can help us define what we are feeling and can validate our truths. Children like to be challenged and excited about life, and they won’t settle for less than one hundred percent. They get lost in whatever they are doing because time doesn’t matter. Being in the flow sparks passion, creativity and pleasure and completely captures their imagination and attention. Most five-year olds I know are honest and can easily express their feelings without fear of retribution. They are in tune with their bodies: they take naps when they are tired, they eat when they are hungry, they trust everyone and they have confidence in their own intuition. There is an innocence about what they want to know, a sense of awe when they are looking at the stars, smelling the flowers, or feeling alive in a big world. They are ☛ still in touch with the driving force of being themselves.

Taking time to relive my childhood moments helps me to understand my emotional complexity, my strengths and my weaknesses. Enlightenment has taught me to look inside myself for answers and being alive is a process of reinventing myself daily. Growing up on a farm taught me to appreciate the work needed to have food on the table and to improvise when something went wrong. I learned to persist and to take risks, the secret being that anything is possible. I understand that to bring my dreams to reality I need to put in time exploring the many options, checking out which ones work the best. A child’s job is to play, to experiment, to ask lots of questions, to have spontaneous reactions amid people and moments. Children know instinctively how to take time off and relax once they have achieved their goal so that the next inspiration can come through.

By February of each year, I get a sense of a theme that the universe gives me to be aware of. Last year, it was about being supported … one hundred percent … and feeling it deep within me. This year it is about being five years old. I know I will have fun with this one as I learn to let go of preconceived ideas and start remembering how I felt as a five-year-old. I take my orders from the universe very seriously, so I celebrated every day for the month of February. I treated myself to two Rolfing sessions, instead of one, a Polarity and a Jin Shin Do treatment, some acupuncture, a trip to Vancouver to have my blood tested (to see if there are any unwanted poisons leaching from my teeth into my bloodstream – more about that in later ISSUES) and focusing on continuing to improve my eyesight. I shall continue cleansing and rebuilding my internal organs, doing yoga for flexibility and strength, and walking, just for the joy of it. Learning to feel what my body is saying and expressing myself is getting easier all of the time. Barbara de Angelis was right when she said “New love heals old wounds.” My intention is… to have the honesty, vitality and energy of a five year old by the end of the year.

The universe has given me the perfect playground to explore the many options. As I continue to heal and grow, I’ll keep you informed of my progress. Much love to all my readers who share this journey with me.

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