Thursday, June 16, 2005


On childhood bliss

A few years ago, I spent a while talking to a psychologist trying to untangle some of the knots my ex-husband left behind, and one day she told me that after hearing so much about my childhood and how I felt about growing up, one of the best things I could do with my life was to raise a couple of kids the way my parents raised me. Is that not the most amazing compliment you can ever imagine?

In response to my 101 things post, Cooper from Been There - which is a really good blog, BTW - said, "What did your parents do right and why did you love your childhood (outside of school) so much? I want to know this so I can do that for my kids. Tell me!"

I had to think about this for a while, but I think the answer is that I always felt secure. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I was loved: by my parents, two sets of grandparents, even my pesty younger brother. Unconditional love builds a safety net so that you have the courage to stretch yourself out a little bit, to try new things, to be brave, knowing that if you don't quite make it, there will be someone there to catch you, or at least pick you up and dust you off and work out some of the dents in your ego before sending you off to try again.

Also, my parents worked fairly hard at preserving my innocence. Ignorance truly is bliss. While I could tell you in graphic detail where babies came from for as long as I can remember, I had no idea that for the first years of my life my parents barely had two nickles to rub together. My granny used to buy clothes for me, because my folks just couldn't afford it. I had no idea until I was much older. And while I was reading the newspaper daily starting when I was in elementary school, and we watched the news every night, somehow I managed to stay completely sheltered of the cruelties of the world for most of my childhood.

It helps, too, that my parents were very much in love, and I can't recall a single instance of them fighting, truly fighting, in front of us. Conversely, I wonder if this is where my fear of conflict comes from (hey, make that 102 things about me - I don't think I mentioned I have a deeply entrenched fear of conflict and hate fighting of any kind) and sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to see that people can fight and resolve a situation rather than just not seeing the fighting in the first place.

One thing that makes me a little bit sad that my boys won't have the freedom I had, because I have so many happy memories of just taking off and wandering around the neighbourhood when I was just five or six or seven years old, or playing hide and seek with the neighbourhood gang until it was too dark to see. It makes me a little sad that they will grow up in such a different kind of world than I did. I used to walk to school and back again every day by myself at the age of four - can you imagine that happening today?

What do you guys think? What makes for a happy childhood? What will you do that your parents did, or what will you desperately hope you will never do?