My childhood was an adventure. There isn’t really any other word to describe it. It involved broken bones, bruises, and spills; but it also involved a lot of hugs, kisses, and family-time. I know that there are a lot of people who say that their childhood was crazy, and I’m not trying to claim that mine was crazier, but it was crazy in a different way.
When I was very young, my older sister, Rachel, and I were the same person. Not because we thought or acted the same, but because I wanted to be like her. I wore what she had worn. I did what she did. I didn’t mind wearing hand-me-down clothes because I thought that by wearing what she wore, I would become her.
My family is not the neatest family. Some might consider our house a mess. There was never a day that went by when things were put back where my sister and I had gotten them. In the night, my mom would try to put everything back where it was, but we all knew that the moment my sister and I came downstairs, the chaos would start again. We ran around the house and outside. Took out the coloring pencils and crayons, only to grow bored of them a few minutes later (never putting them back). Sometimes, I would help my mom make dinner. Most of the time, it would take double the time to get anything done. She would put me on the simplest jobs, like shredding the cheese, and I would be so distracted only half the cheese made it in the bowl. My mom knew that if she let me help, we wouldn’t eat until an hour later than expected, but she didn’t care. She knew that by helping her make dinner, I would gain a new experience, so it was worth the extra hour.
My mom’s only rule when we made the messes was that, “When you grow up and have kids of your own, you have to let them do this to your house.” She wanted to make sure that kids are allowed to be kids. She saw other mothers trying to restrain their children because they were too hectic, but my mom just laughed. Yes, she did discipline us. She rarely yelled at us (making it that much more scary when she did), and instead taught us lessons in different ways. She dealt not in punishment and reward, but in consequences. If I did something wrong, I had to pay for it– in toys. Depending on the crime would change the importance of the toy. Now, this sounds silly to me now, but in my 5 year old mind, not being able to play with my polly pockets was worse than the apocalypse.
When I talk about broken bones and bruises, it wasn’t because of anything my parents did, it was because of what my parents did not do. They rarely stopped me from trying something out, no matter how stupid it sounded (within reason). If I wanted to hang upside down from the trapeze set in my backyard, they said “go ahead.” What better way to learn than from experiencing it myself? So I broke bones and rarely went to bed without mysterious bruises covering my legs, but I always felt free knowing that tomorrow would bring endless possibilities. I wouldn’t trade anything for my childhood.