"No," I answered but I left off the part about not having a lot of childhood memories. I have fragmented memories that hit the high points. I also have the memories of the stories told to me about my childhood but I do not remember getting lost at the beach when I was 2.
Nor do I remember the time I was around 18 months and almost drowned but I remember the story told by my parents. The story of the family swimming in a pool and someone looking down from a balcony and yelling down that there was a baby in the pool. I was face down. Not sure how I got there, either that part of the story is left out or my brain decided to cut that part of the story out of my memories.
I know that 1975 was a different time, a time when kids could play in their front yards without adults hovering nearby. When we walked to school with our friends starting in kindergarten, again sans adults. It was a time before CNN and 24 hour news shows reporting each isolated kidnapping as if they are happening every minute and parents have to be ever vigilant of these evil doers. I say that not because kids are not taken, I know they are, someone just attempted to kidnap a girl from her school a few miles from my house, but because the rates have not really increased over time but the reporting of them makes it seem like it happens every day.
Today parents are seen as negligent if we let our kids ride home from school too young or leave them in the car when we run into the bank. I remember agonizing over whether it was okay for me to leave my preschooler in their carseat in the car parked right in front of the dry cleaners where the door was open the whole time and I was not ten feet from my child. I finally decided that was okay because getting the kid out and then the kid and the dry cleaning back in the van seemed like a more precarious option. But I still ride my bike with the kids too and from school and not just because the youngest is in first grade.
But I go back to that story, the one where I as a two year old wandered off at the beach, only months after falling in a pool and almost drowning. And I wonder. Why did that little two year old girl decide to go to the bathroom alone? That was where I was. In the bathroom. I guess I needed to go and so I went. By myself.
I was a pretty independent two year old it seems. I don't know if that is in my DNA or a result of me having to take care of myself. I just know that I was though I remember wishing my mom or dad looked after me more. But don't all kids. I know my boys would prefer I make their school lunch for them like the other parents.
It is hard to know what messages we pick up when we are young. I wonder what my boys will take away from their early years, or have taken away now that they are all elementary school aged.
After hearing the story of my getting lost at the beach this weekend, I felt sad. Sad for the little girl who felt she needed to go to the bathroom alone. Sad for the grown woman who had more insight into why she did not feel safe with her own mother.
Sad that the stories of my early, early years are all told of me being invisible.
Oh, except for the stories about my mom playing with me in the middle of the night so my big brother would not get jealous. She would tease him that, "babies can be annoying can't they," when I would interrupt their fun needing to be fed or changed. At least that is the story she tells me.
And I have learned over the last few years that those stories change.
Have your childhood stories changed or taken on new meaning now that you are a grown up? *****
Turns out I am not the only one writing about parenting on Mondays so I thought I would join in on the Parent 'Hood fun.