Friday, July 08, 2005

5 things I miss from my childhood

Laura, thank you for the tag.

I miss waking up early early on a Saturday morning, going over to my Godparents' house and playing quietly with my Godsisters (when your Godparents are married, you get a whole family!) until the arrival of the kolaches from the Brazos Blue Ribbon Bakery. (Link goes to the recipe for the fruit kolaches which I posted as part of a response to another answers game. Maybe questions make me hungry.) We would get boxes and boxes of them. Gabby liked the red fruit ones, but I only wanted the cream cheese fruit kolaches. Later, I decided the apple fruit ones wouldn't kill me. Only after we moved away did I come to appreciate the sausage kolaches. After the move, when we would go back, we'd call ahead and order dozens of them, visit just a little with the Godfamily (sometimes), then drive back home and freeze what wasn't eaten. I miss those Saturday mornings.

Sunday mornings were almost as fun. Sometimes we would get the McDonald's Big Breakfasts. The best part were the hashbrowns, with their own little paper sleeve. Nobody was willing to share those. If you didn't eat your eggs right away, they would get cold and icky. My sister showed me how to add them to my sausage and muffin to make a sandwich, which warmed them up enough to be super tasty.

A special treat was getting to go to the Deluxe Burger Bar. If you were good and ate your vegetables, you could get a malt. I was as horrified as my mother was when I found out Dairy Queens close for the winter in the north.

My sister M
She could make anything better. My parents each worked two jobs, so M usually had the care of me. (J taught me solitary games so she could read in her room while I played.) I wouldn't eat tuna fish, but she could make a *Magic* sandwich (nobody else could, even if it was the same sandwich) which had tuna fish in it, but it wasn't tuna fish.

She taught me all the songs she learned at summer camp. (She and my Godfamily went up to Camp Ondessonk nearly every summer.) She taught me to paint, especially the most important "it's not what you intended, but we can fix it" attitude. She let me read her Laura Ingalls Wilder books, even after I spilled milk on one, reading it for the umpteenth time.

She had knickknack shelves with little wooden sections, and something in each one: a tiny colored glass bottle with a cork, miniscule dice, Guatemalan luck dolls. She would take them down and let me look at them, and even play with the dice, as long as I put them back carefully.

When I didn't want to brush my teeth or go to the bathroom or take a bath, her reply was, "I'm gonna do it first!" and a dash down the hall. Naturally, I wanted to win more than I wanted to avoid the task at hand. Only after she went to college, got married, and had a son did I realize that when I think of an earthly "mommy," I think of her.

Oh, how I loved school. First grade was fun. There was a library *right there* in the building, but second grade had Mrs. Wilkerson, whom I dearly loved. Mrs. Bryant, from first grade, taught us little stories about the letters. I only remember that little "o" was so hungry, and beseechingly asked for a cookie as he said, "oh" for the "short" vowel sound.

Tara was in my class both years (then we moved). We had a play, and I was the lead mouse. Mrs. Wilkerson had called us each up to read to her in a corner while the others were doing quiet work. I had read a few lines, then said, "Oh, it's a mouse. I need to use my mouse voice." I wrote the story Pearl Squirrel for our unit on how stories are composed (beginning, three events, and conclusion) and was thoroughly embarrassed to win all but one award. (I was relieved when Tara won it. I wanted to share.)

I didn't like the social aspect of school as much during (3rd grade Catholic school, so I "wouldn't have to change schools in the middle of the year") and after (4-5, 6-8, 9-12) the move. I remember in third grade, we had "Drop Everything And Read" time (like I needed to set aside time for that?), and I was so completely engrossed in my book that I forgot to stop reading. When I "came to" *everyone* was staring at me, and the teacher was *right* in front of my desk, looking down. I honestly hadn't realized that the time was up. Third grade was somewhat fun, though. We got to do things at our own pace, since there were 9 children in the 3rd-4th-grade class. It seemed like we spent forever on Charlotte's Web: we had to pick four or five projects our of nine. I remember making a shadow box and writing a book report, but I'm sure I drew pictures for more than just that.

Even before I started school, I was learning. On Saturday mornings, my mother and I would do math. I loved those mornings. We would do equations. Recently, she sent me a sheet: "x + 3 = 5" in her handwriting, and a large "x = 2" in mine, drooping down the page. "God the Father + _______ + Holy Spirit = Trinity" and "Jesus" was the last entry on the page.

I loved school projects. I have no idea what for, but I remember taking Lego men and transforming them (slipcovers for their shields) into Masai tribesmen. I'm sure I have those slipcovers still with my Legos.

Legos. Lincoln logs. Erector set. Model H trains. Coloring books. Paint-with-water books. Activity books (the three-inch-thick, second-hand kind). The china doll who was mine but lived under the sofa in the living room because I didn't trust myself not to break her. My baby doll Chrissy who still has Strawberry Shortcake nail polish in her hair. Discovery toys, like Marbelous Mosaic, the giant marble thing which my mother enjoys/ed more than I, and the now-elusive spelling tile game. That game was so addictive, but all it was consisted of a base, paperboard cards with five pictures on the right and coded holes on the left, and coded plastic letter tiles. You had to match the letters to spell the words, and they would only fit if the bumps on the backs of the tiles fit into the holes on the card. "Adze" and "plane" on the tools card were new ones to me.

Before the move, we were close to inseparable. Before we started first grade, Tara's family moved into town. Her mother asked the school to suggest the name of someone to be friends with Tara, and they picked me (so my mother explained later). I have thanked God so many times for that. I would get into trouble for talking to and with Tara during class, but as soon as her name went on the board, I would behave. I didn't care how many checks I got, but I didn't want her to have any.

We would sit together at lunch and make the boys guess at her middle name. (Since her mother made it up, it wasn't likely.) It starts with an E. They would guess: "Elizabeth?" "No." *requisite giggle* "Emily?" "No." "Elizabeth?" "No." "Eleanor?" "No." "Elizabeth?" "No."

We were in the highest level reading group (robins or bluebirds or whatever), and our math group also got taken out in the hall when Tara's mother came. We used the gloriously fun Cuisenaire rods (which I just learned how to spell); we used the letters from our names and changed them into numbers and added them up to see who won (in speed and in the end value) and debated whether or not Tara could use her middle name since I didn't have one (my number was bigger anyhow, I think).

Tara had the best ideas. We had to make code names, secret alphabets, and secret languages. She taught me how to cut and fold what we called anagrams (or that's what I remember us calling them, anyhow: papers with three sections, the top one having flaps on the top and sides so that when it was folded up the flaps would tuck in and it would be its own envelope). When we were moving to the new house, my parents sent me to Tara's house for an entire week while they were cleaning (think flying roaches kind of cleaning). I was in pure heaven. That's the first time I didn't bite my nails. I was having too much fun. (Even though I did chip my tooth falling onto the monkey bars. I was with Tara. I could take anything in stride.)

After the move, I would ask for two of anything special (like a bracelet) so I could send one to Tara. We got to go on a tour of the Bluebell Creameries in Brenham. When they moved to Australia for six months, she sent postcards. When they came back, she gave me an dark opalescent marble. (It's in my special treasures still.) Whenever anyone was mean to me at school, it wasn't so bad, because I had my best friend who loved me, even if she wasn't there right then.

When we started sixth grade, we independently chose the flute, and in ninth Latin. She switched to Spanish after a year. As for the flute, she was playing the Flight of the Bumblebee the first summer, and I had been told not to try playing it until the school year so I wouldn't get any bad habits. She was better than I at everything, and I loved it.

I miss being little and so fiercely happy. If anything went wrong, I could almost always hide under my bed with a book.

Peterbird, Mikey, Elisabeth, Anthony, and Meg: with no strings attached, you are invited to share your "5 things I miss from my childhood." (Of course, if anyone else wants to, you're more than welcome.)


Blogger Laura said...

wow...Tara really does sound like a special person.

I can identify with the book thing during "reading" times...I got in trouble for reading when I wasn't supposed to a few times!

Fri Jul 08, 01:15:00 PM CDT  
Blogger TeaLizzy said...

I still remember when I was forbidden to open a book (other than schoolbooks) before noon, or before I'd gotten all my work done. I had a tendency to want to read for "just five minutes" after I'd finished my math, or grammar, or whatever. Mom got so furious. Poor thing, she had such different troubles than the other moms. "How do YOU get your kids to stop reading?" Not the typical icebreaker at neighborhood functions, eh?

Sun Jul 10, 01:11:00 PM CDT  

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