I Whined Before I Was Old Enough For Wine!

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.

56 thoughts on “I Whined Before I Was Old Enough For Wine!

  1. Your summers sound waaay better than girl scout camp. I mean, I went one year and all we did was basket weave and make pot holders. I think we rode in a canoe, once. The worst part was you had to wash dishes every night in a bucket. 🙂

    The picture letter is too cute. What a great kid, so concerned even though you really wanted that horse, but not if it was too much money. Ha.

    🙂

    • The kids at school made camp sound like soooo much fun. Back then, I focused on all the chores I had to do rather than all the fun I was having. Now, I can look at it from a different perspective.

  2. Yes, I’d say we were very priveleged to be what we considered at the time to be underpriveleged. Kids now a days should have it so tough! That’s what shaped us into the women we are today.

  3. I think the things we didn’t get to do teach us just as much (if not more) as the things we did get to do…
    I know what you mean about horses- when I was 5, I was obsessed with them and begged my father to take me horseback riding. He was afraid that I would fall down and hurt myself (I am clumsy) but after a year of begging he finally gave up and I’ve been riding ever since 🙂
    What I never got to do? I always wanted to do theater in high school but I was too shy… I got over my shyness in collage but I still wonder how it feels to act like someone else in front of a crowd…

    • I was never brave enough to act in front of other either. I’ve had a few occasions that I’ve had to speak in front of a large group and it is really hard for me. My voice cracks and shakes. I don’t think public speaking will ever be an arena I jump into!

  4. Your childhood sounds very similar to mine and I can say that we were both blessed with a wonderful adventure, an adventure that could not be bought, however one that outlasts many of the kind that would have cost too much money.

  5. And you got to do all those things every day. Camp only lasts a week or two at the most. I think your childhood sounds magical. I can imagine it as a children’s book.

  6. I didn’t get to go to camp or have pets or anything either. But I did get to race bmx so it’s something. But if you want, we can whine together. 😉

    • Racing a bmx? Now, that sounds totally awesome. We weren’t allowed to play sports at school because my mom thought they were too dangerous! If she had only known have the stuff we did while she wasn’t looking, and dad overruled when it came to the motorcycle. Can we have wine while we whine? It seems to make it feel more legit!

  7. Oh, Suzie, this post brought back so many memories for me and my childhood!

    “. However, my sister and I built tents in the house by draping quilts over the furniture. ”

    Yes! Yes!…I did the same thing with my brother and cousins. How fun!

    And me too, I hated working in the garden. In fact, that was the way my mother would punish me. WEEDING!

    LOVE the photo and letter about the horsey!

    OMG…I wanted an Easy Bake Oven more than anything!

    Fun post, SC!

    X

    • We considered the gardening punishment which it wasn’t, it was just a chore. I really wish I’d learned more now. Thankfully Dirt Man is much more tedious w\than I am when it comes to growing plants!

  8. As children,I guess we all sometimes want what others have, but I think you got the better deal from your chilhood. Sounds like loads of fun and a great education on life… who could ask for more? Enjoyed reading this.. thanks for sharing. Heartspell

  9. Loved your story. I loved Donny Osmond too. I cried when he would appear on a Saturday morning show.
    Sounds like you did not get a lot of what you wanted but, did get a lot of what you needed. I can totally relate.
    Now, you just a need a paper and pen to start that bucket list of things you want to do in life.

  10. Lovely post! Your childhood sounds very exotic and foreign to this city girl. I would have loved the experiences you and your sisters had! Magical times happen and it takes 20 years to begin to understand how magical the times were! I was in bed sick from 6 to 8 years old. (Rheumatic fever followed by brain fever.) I had a home teacher and developed a love for reading in my pretty blue bedroom. I was carried to the bathroom, brought all my meals, and actually really enjoyed the time. (I read and adored Wuthering Heights at age 8.) Perspective is everything, isn’t it?

  11. SuziCate I honestly think the sort of childhood you had is the idyllic perfect one for any young person. The tragedy is that so few children today really get time to explore the great outdoors and certainly do not do so independently, using their imaginations and developing skills that today are all but lost.

  12. I’ve never been to Disney World either, so don’t feel bad. In fact, my family really didn’t take vacations outside of Minnesota. I think it had a lot to do with the farm; my dad could only find neighborhood boys to help with chores for a few days while we were away. No two-week road trips for us.

  13. Isn’t it great to look back on childhood and realize how fun it really was? My siblings always had me, the youngest, go and get things for them, too, btw. Sneaky devils.

    I also love your horse picture, and the fact that you danced to D.O. full blast.

  14. I think our children today get so much more of what we consider essential activities because we feel like if we don’t provide them with these things we are somehow bad parents and they will go through life deprived in some way. I like to compare what you wrote to how I feel about my Halloweens. My mom never bought me an outfit. I always had to create my own even when I was very little. I was either a hobo or a gypsy…every year. Subsequently, my children had the most elaborate outfits every year..as long as they could stan it. We try to compensate through our children what we feel like we missed out on.

    • We were not allowed to do Halloween. My mom was afraid the candy would be tainted. However, Daddy took us to the store and loaded us up with junk and candy to make up for it!

  15. I remember the kids at school making fun of us country kids but as you said:

    “Nature was my playground. Life was my teacher. I was blessed. I just had to grow up to appreciate it.”

    Very good Post SC

  16. Sounds alot like my childhood. How deprived we were! But look how much fun we had, and we didn’t sit around on the couch all day on a Sat. and be hypnotized by a Wii or a cell phone like the kids do now. I feel sorry for them. They won’t have stories like yours to tell. Great story!

  17. You are not alone – I’ve never been to Disney World either! I don’t regret it. I don’t think that your childhood was deprived at all. It sounds lovely, really. It helped make you into the amazing woman you are today.

  18. I got to do all those things that you did, and like you I wouldn’t trade it for all the camps. I did get to go to Girl Guard Camp with the Salvation Army. Girl Guard is the same as Girl Scout, just different names. Trust me camp was fun, but not as much fun as having your very own space and things to do. Reading your story made me want to be a young girl back on the farm again.

  19. Another deep and beautiful piece of writing Suzicate.

    I did not get a horse either. But I learned to love the woods ans shore, and to write poetry while inspired by nature!

    LOVE your new gravatar — I was like — who is that NEW lady on my blog. 🙂

    xo

  20. Hey, was I so silly as not to link up my comment correctly?

    Thought on way home from the library (where I left that above comment) I never got to take ballet either, I was so sad about that, until I signed Kelly up for classes. But she’s more into gymnastics.

    Nature is indeed the greatest teacher. And look what a fine writer you are, Suzicate. And look at how much you enrich so many of our lives.

    xo

  21. You may not have received the things you wanted as a child, but I think you are still very rich inside, and that counts far more than the outer trappings. You took those lemons and made the most delicious of lemonades. Well done!!
    ps. I never went to Disney World either.

  22. I never got to go to camp and I didn’t get the horse I wanted either, or the baby sister or kitten that would have been a good substitute for the baby sister. I did get a hamster and then another one and then 12 more so I learned at a fairly early age about birth control, so that was good.

    Your childhood sounds magical and you are so right, there is nothing like a little time to fully appreciate things.

  23. Your “camp” sounds divine. I’m 37, and I want to do all those things *now*!

    Good for you for looking back through the years with the wisdom and grace to recognize that which you weren’t able to see in the moment.

  24. Some wonderful childhood memories — it brought back some of my favorite times when I was reading about yours,

    Strange how that happens sometimes– summertime was so magical when I was a child growing up, fireflies, marshmallows, camping — picnics — summer seemed like it would last forever.

    Thanks for the good read, now I am all nostalgic and teary eyed.

    Joanny

  25. Your last line sums it all up….”Nature was my playground. Life was my teacher. I was blessed. I just had to grow up to appreciate it.”

    I with ya’ there sister.
    GREAT post.

    🙂

  26. I think there are a lot of things in our childhoods that we can only appreciate once we grow up a bit. It’s like that saying – careful what you wish for; if we’d all gotten exactly what we thought we wanted when we were kids, we probably wouldn’t have enjoyed any of the things in any special way or appreciate them. Or, like you said, if you’d gotten a horse, it would’ve backfired on you, since you’d have had to walk a mile early in the morning in all weathers to take care of it!

  27. I had the Holly Hobby oven – ahh, fond memories! 🙂 I also think it’s awesome that you still have that picture that you drew of the horse, I chuckled out loud when I saw it – very cute!

  28. My biggest concern is that my kids will one day say I kept them from doing things that they desperately wanted to do. I’m glad your life still turned out OK.

    • I know what you mean, I tried to give them the things I didn’t get. Even though I’m fine now, then they were important. I guess we all want better for our kids. We also have made sure they’ve gotten a good taste of country living as well as city life. Hopefully, it’s rounded them out.

  29. I am quite sure you drew the long stick on this one. Your childhood sounds like a wonder! I wish I could live it right now. I too didn’t get a lot, and mostly had to make up my own fun, but I did get to go to camp once for a week, because our church sponsored it. It was pretty fun, I have to say, but no where near the heaven I thought it would be. Your description of building forts really took me back…that was a major activity in my youth!

  30. Oh my…it did not sounds ridiculous when I was a kid, but not that I hear my kids go on about stuff i am just thinking how ridiculous are you…have you [aid attention to what you do have. Oh well, all part of being a child. I always wanted piano lessons…never go them.

  31. Enjoyed how you explain the imaginative “improvisational fun” you had while younger… Never been to Disney World either. Oh well 😦
    great post, well written

  32. I would have made a better boy scout too! I love playing around with nature and have the many scars to prove it! LOL!

    I love how your imagination was way better than the wants you had.

  33. There’s nothing like growing up in nature… getting to explore and play in the mud, climbing trees and scaling rocks. Kids now-a-days have no idea what they’re missing out on.

    I like that picture, by the way! It’s so precious!

  34. This is a great post. I am learning more recently to be grateful for my childhood as it was.. Funny the way we cannot appreciate it until it is gone.

    Best,

    Hannah Katy

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