It's really late and try as I might, I just can't get my brain to switch off so I can sleep. I was thinking about something I am doing for The Eldest One's 19th birthday which is only 11 days away. And then, as usually happens my thoughts started wandering in an odd fashion and I ended up thinking about my own childhood.
I was one of those lucky kids. You know the ones who just have a really happy home. I remember being a teenager and hearing a couple of my friends talk about how much they hated their parents and I just couldn't relate. I loved my parents; my Dad was my world even as a moody teenager. Sure, there were your typical weird dysfunctional oddities between my siblings and I, and probably plenty of times where I resented my Mum or Dad for this or that as all kids do at some point. But I truly loved my home and my family and I at some level understood and appreciated just how lucky I was and how good I had things.
I remember being really little, well, I've always been little ... I remember being really young, I must have been about four or five I think. We were living in Tottenham, a suburb in Melbourne. We were about to move houses, just a suburb or two across, to Sunshine the very next day. Everything was all packed up and we were sleeping on mattresses on the floor. I remember looking out the window. It was dark and I could see the street lights. They looked like cats eyes. The night sky seemed so deep blue, not black at all, probably because of the very street lights I was staring at. I remember being so scared. I'm not sure what I was frightened of, but I was. As far as I can tell, this memory serves no purpose. There is no clear reason why it is so crystal clear, but it is. Maybe it's as simple as my brain reminding me that fear can be overcome and most of the time there is nothing actually to be scared of, but whatever the reason I have thought of that night hundreds of times and it is always so very vivid.
I remember a time when I was even younger. It's not as clear, it could even be multiple things mingled into one fuzzy image, but it's also something I have thought of. I remember my Dad laughing, I had been talking to him about what was for dinner. I have absolutely no recollection of what that meal was, but I recall Dad laughing, and saying with a big grin on his face "yum, yum, pigs bum!" It was probably rabbit or something equally as gross to me but delicious to my father. Doesn't really matter, the feeling of that memory is what's important. It literally makes me stop in my tracks and smile, no matter where I am or what I am doing.
I remember playing in our back yard, I remember standing on the back fence and waiting for the train to go past. I have no idea whether we were waiting for my train driver Daddy to go flying past and blow that train whistle, or if it was just a random driver who knew that another drivers' kids were waiting on that fence. But again, that memory makes me smile. I feel genuinely happy when I recall that time.
I also remember being in the driveway of that same house and playing some sort of kitchen or baking game with my younger brother. I was either three or four so he would have been either one or two. I had placed a bunch of small rocks on a plate and told him they were delicious. I of course was pretend playing. He was not and the idiot ate them. He was fine, I don't recall getting into trouble but I think my older brother and sister did! I am pretty sure that caused a fair amount of resentment towards me on behalf of my sister. Still, I smile as I write it.
I can remember running away from home when I was maybe six or seven I guess. I packed my suitcase and everything! No idea what the catalyst that caused this extreme event was, but I vividly remember putting my special tea cup in my bag with my clothes. I went out the front door and got as far as the front gate. There I stopped because I wasn't allowed past it. I am pretty sure Mum came and convinced me to 'come home', but oh the devastation when I opened my suitcase to unpack and found my special mug broken. I guess that was some sort of life lesson learned!
I remember in that house a particularly vicious thunder storm. I remember standing at the big glass doors in the kitchen and my Dad instilling in me such a love for nature. He was in awe and it was right then and there that I learned to love nature and storms so much.
I recall being in our back yard and playing ridiculous games ... it must have been around the 1984 Olympics because I was pretending I was a weight lifter. I can hear my own commentary in my head as I write this, and I can picture me lifting that broomstick high up over my head and oh how proud of myself I was!! I have seen my own kids, all of them, play in a similar fashion and I am reminded of myself every single time. Every single time, it makes me smile.
There are so many things I remember from being a kid that I would be here for days if I tried to list them them all. I remember being allowed to walk to the library by myself (well, I was probably with my brother or sister but no adult and certainly no older than maybe eight), and to get there we had to pass this old spooky house. I remember not wanting to walk on the same side of the street as it was on. In my mind it looks big and black and oh so scary! My adult rational tells me it was probably either abandoned or maybe it had been burnt in a fire recently, but my child's imagination knew no such logic. It was haunted, and it was dangerous and it was so frightening!!
I remember our dog Winston. A Bearded Collie and the most beautiful dog. He was awesomely scruffy, and looked permanently smiley. He was grey, with some black and white here and there I guess. Mostly just a big grey scruffy mess and man did I love that dog. I remember him being chased by a koala when we moved to the country, and I remember his wanderlust. He just liked to roam. He followed us to school one day, yes, just like Mary's little lamb. And just like Mary's lamb, he was not allowed to be there. He caused quite a stir when he was spotted in the playground but was firmly sent home. I remember how he loved to lay on top of car bonnets. Just like a cat, he liked the warmth I guess of the engine. I remember Mum being so stressed out one day when she had rescued him from the hood of a particularly expensive car!! He was the best dog ...
I remember when I was older being allowed to paint whatever I wanted on the bedroom walls. I remember listening to Bob Dylan and painting the biggest sunflower all over my wardrobe doors. I recall painting Eddie Vedder and the words Pearl Jam on my bedroom wall not too long after that. It was magnificent! Apparently so magnificent that it took many multiple layers of paint to cover Eddie's beautiful face. I like to think it was his awesomeness shining through, but in reality it was probably down to the fact that I used oil paint not acrylic. Oops!
I remember getting grounded when I was about fourteen or fifteen. We had not long moved and a friend had come to visit. We caught the bus into town and got ourselves a little lost which made us late home. I was so worried about being late that I thought it would be smart to get off the bus at a closer stop, even though that meant crossing a six lane highway without traffic lights. We crossed fine, and my plan would have worked, except for the fact that my Mum was waiting in the street and saw us. She had been so worried because we were late home (no mobile phones back then lol!), and was pacing a bit looking up the street when she saw us. I am sure I gave her heart failure when she realised we were playing Frogger in real life! She told Dad of course and he was livid. I understand now, but at the time I didn't see what the fuss was about. I was grounded and it was the first time ever. But again, it still makes me smile when I think about it. Even if that is mostly me shaking my head at my own stupidity.
I remember our dog Bobbie, the Old English Sheepdog. I remember taking her for walks in the evenings with my Dad and sometimes by myself. I remember when she was still a tiny (comparatively) puppy, and she got so distracted by the seagulls that she walked straight into a telephone pole and bit the side of her tongue off!! I remember another walk when she was a puppy where we walked for so long that her legs got tired and Dad carried her all the way home. I remember walking with Dad to the Botanic Gardens and back, something like ten kms I think, every evening. Gosh I loved those walks.
Honestly, when I think about it, stuff like all of this is what makes life amazing. It's not the big stuff you remember, it's the little things that make up life in between the big events. The mundane everyday crap is what you look back on and if you are really lucky, like me, you smile. I can only hope that when my kids look back on their childhood, that they have as many moments that make them smile as I do looking back on mine. We didn't have the latest and greatest everythings. We didn't have the things we wanted all of the time. We never went without though, although I'm sure my parents went without plenty so we wouldn't. I just hope that I make memories that last like this for them.
The photo at the top is me painting my Gramps' nails. I guess it was about 1978 ish.... Here he is in 2015 with Penelope ...
Here is my Mum and Dad with my younger brother and I. I think this was late summer 1983 after the Ash Wednesday bushfires. I remember this outfit I was wearing. It was a matching top and skirt. The top said "Daddy's Little Girl". The skirt flared out like a mini version of some rock and roll skirt from the 1950's. I loved it so very much.
This one is my Mum and Dad in 1972. I just love how cool they look.
This one is the four of us with our cousins Kylie and Luke. I think it's about 1980 ish. I am in the brown and blue outfit, another all time favourite. This photo was taken in the driveway of the infamous rock feeding/eating incident outlined earlier. Would have been around the same timeframe too ...
Here is me, with my little brother. I think this was maybe about 1980 ish as well, but pretty sure this was my Grandma's house in NSW.
1979, Ouyen Victoria. This is me with my cousin Kylie. You'd never know I am the older of the two of us hehe. Only by two months, but still. That's me with the red dress and no hair look going on ...
Anyway... enough rambling for tonight. Memory is a funny thing that's for sure, but I am very glad that I have such happy memories to think about and share. I will leave you with a picture of Mum with the four of us. I was two in this photo, (yeah, hair wasn't really my strong point!), my younger brother only a couple of weeks I think. My older brother was five and my sister was four. Life goes by in the blink of an eye. Thanks for the photos Mum. I swiped them from your Facebook cause well, it's really really late (or early depending on your viewpoint), and I can't be bothered hunting my own photos down.