This is where I whine about my deprived childhood. Well, not really. I’m going to tell you the things I wanted but didn’t get. Though I was disappointed at the time, I got much better things in place of what my heart desired.
I did not ever get to go to 4-H camp like many of my friends. I desperately wanted to go, but wouldn’t ask because I figured it cost too much money and didn’t want to cause any friction. However, my sister and I built tents in the house by draping quilts over the furniture. I think we would eat our lunch in them, take naps, and play cards. My cousin and I built lean-tos and forts with limbs and brush in the woods. We even made furniture and beds from sticks. Sometimes, we would spend all day in those woods. My brothers once built a fort by digging a hole and building a mound over it with rocks and sticks and then camouflaged it with grass and leaves. It was so dark in there we had to use flashlights to see. They even sent me as the unsuspecting youngest to steal the matches from the house to start a fire. We listened to my brother’s transistor radio in there. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. They let the rest of us play in it. I never actually slept in it, but they probably didn’t either. We also built igloos in the snow, and snow forts to hide behind during snowball battles. It was all a bit like camping without the sleepover. While the kids were at camp, we got up to find Mama’s mile long list of daily chores which usually included cleaning the house and weeding and planting the garden. We hated working in the garden worse than anything. We’d wait until right before it was time for our parents to come home and we’d rush to the garden and throw the seeds in and shove some soil over them and move on. Once when we were planting, our nephew so meticulously placed his seeds exactly the two inch space apart. He was so slow and we were annoyed that he ws so slow. His were the only ones that came up out of what the three of us planted. Daddy couldn’t figure out what happened to the rest of them. Had he been there to witness it, he would have known! And then we used to fish at night and build bonfires on the river bank. We roasted wienies and marshmallows on sticks. During the weekends, we went for excursions on the parkway and had picnics in the mountains. We swam in the rivers and caught crawfish in the creeks. It was almost like camp except it was with my family.
I wanted a horse more than anything in the world. Apparently, I really was concerned about money – I gave my parents this letter asking for a horse (according to the picture I drew, it’s safe to assume I would never have made it as an artist!) but indicating that I didn’t want it if it cost too much money. When my father was drinking he’d pacify me with the story of buying me a horse, but I’d have to step up to the responsibility of getting up at five o’clock in the morning to walk about a mile up the mountainside to my grandmother’s house to feed it and then back after school to groom and exercise him. All I can say is I wouldn’t have lasted a week. Good thing I didn’t get one! But I did get to ride horses at my aunt’s farm, and I didn’t have to do any work. Better than that was the fact that we got to ride motorcycles. That was the most exhilarating feeling ever to zip through those mountain passes leaning your body with the bike as you hugged those curves. And the wind in your face! And motorcycles didn’t smell like horses. Yeah, I’d say that was a great trade off! I didn’t actually have my own motorcycle, but I rode with my dad, uncle, or cousin. However, my nephew had a small bike that I sort of took over and tore up!
It totally sucked that I was never ever allowed to join Girl Scouts. I wanted to do it because the other girls got to do it. I really would have made a much better Boy Scout anyway. I never sold cookies, but I could bake them like nobody’s business. We had full reign of the kitchen while my mom was at work. So, we experimented a lot. I also got a hand- me- down Easy Bake Oven which actually made crappy little cakes. I did order a bunch of vegetable seeds from a seed company and sold them which earned me a vanity case. It was a patchwork of several tones of aqua and had a mirror inside trimmed in lace. I still have it!
I never ever got to go to Disney World. Am I the only person on earth who has never been to Disney? I did get to go to Florida. I also got to go to Kings Dominion and Busch Garden theme parks. Though I was afraid of heights, I did like roller coasters when I was young. I got sick on the tea cups and was petrified of the things that dropped the bottom from under you. I really wouldn’t have been much fun anyway. I really wasn’t fond of the Disney characters either because I almost never went to the movies and our television reception was crummy in the country.
I did not get to take ballet classes. I was so jealous of Karal and Judy when they bought their cute little tutus and slippers. No matter that I did not have a coordinated bone in my body, nor was I a frilly kind of girl…I wanted to do it, too. However, my free spirit was allowed (parents didn’t know because they weren’t home!) to play our Donny Osmond full blast and prance my ungraceful little butt all over the house and yard. I screeched and jerked, and let it all out. It was a total blast!
So, while there were things I didn’t get to do and things I didn’t have, I got to help cut firewood, tend gardens, and pick apples, peaches, and cherries. I got to climb trees and swim rivers. I collected jack rocks and arrow heads. I scooped frog eggs from the quarry and watched them turn into tadpoles and then to frogs. I had creeks, quarries, and woods out my backdoor. I had acres to explore and an imagination the took me many miles away. Nature was my playground. Life was my teacher. I was blessed. I just had to grow up to appreciate it.