People have asked me to blog about this, so here are some. I hope they get you thinking of your childhood in a positive way.
I remember being so little that three of us fit into a large washing up tub that stood outside the kitchen at my friend’s house. We called it the tank. (This is a picture of the exact type of tub:)
So there were three of us girls in here, with room to spare and splash around. Back in “the day” TV’s were not something everyone had, and the radio still played soap operas at 3 in the afternoon. I remember hot days where we clambered into this old horse whether or not we had clothes to change into. Our friends lived just down the road and with the new baby in their house the middle child was often left to our care. Each of us were a year apart. So summertime was a time of “tank” and as we grew older the tank grew smaller and we switched our interest in it for interest in the hidden avocados, and viennas (hot dog sausages) that were stashed in pantries (that and preserved apricots).
The first time I had an avocado I absolutely hated it. They’d hollowed out the flesh and put salt and vinegar onto it and to be honest it was just revolting. But I enjoyed growing the pips into trees.. In our childhood innocence we’d put the two halves of the avo skin together after we’d gobbled up the pulp, positive that moms would be fooled into believing they’d somehow just vanished. As for the viennas, we cut them lengthways down the middle and smeared mayonnaise, white pepper and tomato sauce into them and ate them with messy fingers whilst the “fizzer” sweets sat on the heater, warming just enough so that we could stretch them from wall to wall and eat our way back to the center.
The elder child would get together with his friends and try to spook us continuously, so we were always building “houses” – under a beam, on a tree, behind some wall in the garden. When it rained, we played boardgames and set up little “shows” for the family; telling stories or singing, or putting on a play that usually consisted of some type of mockery of the adults, and had them rolling in laughter over tea and marble cake. Summer time in the Africa we knew meant rain, and rain, once passed, meant races along the street, with boats of sticks and papers and matchboxes.
The first time I watched TV I watched a cowboy movie. I couldn’t understand why people would want to sit glued to a TV. But of course I readily changed my mind when “maya the bee” and “Heidi” came on. Maya wasn’t quite as glam back then..
We were allowed to watch a little before nap time, usually because this helped to put us to sleep on the couch where we awoke covered by blankets that mysteriously appeared and to cups of coco, and freshly baked home cookies who’s scent filled the house. As evening fell, dad came home, and dinner again mysteriously appeared on the table.
These were the years of no pre-school, where the pavement led to mysterious places, and empty milk bottles with a coin inside were placed empty on the front stoep and magically replenished in the morning by what we were told was a flying cow. (Yes we later discovered the milk wagon, a tricycle powered “wagon”, and watched with amazement as the boys and girls in the street hitched a ride on the back until the driver furiously stopped and chased them away.) And yes, milkmen really existed, and really dressed like this:
Ours was perhaps a sheltered upbringing, but if I could, today, give my child the simplicity of those early years. I’d let him gently lift the lid on those milk bottles before they were taken into the kitchen so that he too could dip his finger into the bottle and skim that thick, fresh cream off the top of the milk! I’d love to be able to let him make mudpies on the pavement without worrying about broken bottles because the streets were clean. And I’d give him the social skills that come from neighbourhood kids a mile long way faster than those in a pre-school of today.
So now I’m thinking; I wonder how much more my mother wishes I’d lived in her day. And now I’m thinkin; I’m grateful for every moment spent on races, on wooden seated bicycles and clubhouses made of and cardboard and sand that collapsed around me. Yes, I could do with a little less digital and a little more fellowship with like minded children today. We fell off bikes, we washed neighbours’ cars, we came home dirty and hungry, but mom was there. We came home sick once because we’d drunk shampoo from little “gift bags” (aka samples) in all the postboxes down the street and no parent every found out because it was club code to stick together.
And you know, reading all this suddenly makes happy…