Childhood Neurosis

I’ve been thinking a lot about what our future kid is going to be like. What will their interests be, their personality, their likes, their dislikes?

And beyond that, what things will they inherit from me, good or bad?

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I was kind of definitely a weird kid. I was anxious, even then, and lived almost entirely in a world populated by my imagination.

My mom and I had a good laugh about it recently when Tammy and I went to visit them. My parents are cleaning out their basement and they came across a lot of stuff from my childhood, including artwork, school pictures, and books. A lot of these things brought up memories.

Weirdo Kid Memories:
1) My sister and I each had a special “comfort item” that we slept with. Hers was a doll, and mine was a bear. We used to play together at night when we were supposed to be sleeping. We would pretend we were new moms, and we had just given birth (not that we had the slightest concept of how that process would work) to our doll and our bear.

The only weird thing about my sister’s doll was that it was bald.  Because she had thrown up on it so many times as a child, my parents had pulled the wig off it, basically saying, “fuck this”.

Anyway, we would play this game where we introduced our new kids to each other. Here’s how that conversation would go:

Sister: Sarah, come meet my new baby! She’s beautiful! Only problem is…she’s bald.

Me: Sister, come meet MY new baby! He’s beautiful! Only problem is…he’s a bear.

And then we’d play the game again.

2) I freaking LOVED the Little House on the Prairie series. The books, not the show. Don’t speak to me about that abomination.

Little House on the Prairie

(I also loved the spinoff books about Rose (Laura’s daughter) and Caroline (Laura’s mother.)

I went through a period when I was about 8 where I longed to live in “olden times”. I would steal one of my mom’s work skirts (calf length on her, beyond floor length on me), put on the prairie boots that were inexplicably in style at the time (and that I had successfully convinced my parents to buy for me) and run around the backyard pretending I was saving the crops from a looming tornado. Or frost. Or something. I also wore those clothes while making forts in the living room, and then knocking them down when the tornado came.

3) I had a dress when I was around the same age that I LOVED. Actually, I loved dresses my whole childhood and my mom had to FORCE me to wear pants when it was cold outside. I know. Worst lesbian ever. Anyway, this dress was old-fashioned, with a sash and smocking along the top. It was kind of maroon colored.

When I was in elementary school, we took a field trip to some local caves. Upon learning this, I instantly knew I would wear my dress because being in the cave would be ALMOST like being in olden times (no telephone wires, no cars, etc to ruin the illusion), and my dress would make things more authentic. I also had these stickers that were little paw prints of animals.

animal paw prints

Before leaving for the field trip, I accessorized my dress by sticking many of these stickers on my dress, reasoning that girls in olden times obviously had wild animals as friends. Perhaps people would even think these stickers were real animal prints and know me to be fabulously cool. I was so excited.

Of course, as soon as kids saw me they made fun of me. They said my clothes were dirty and ugly and that my mama should “wash me better”. While we were in the cave, I peeled off those stickers, but held on to them. That night in bed, I stuck them on my headboard. The see-through backing of the sticker showed the maroon fuzz that came off my dress. For as long as I had that bed, every time I saw the stickers I felt those kids mocking me, and was ashamed and embarrassed all over again.

Anxious Memories:
1) I had an immense fear of my parents death, and “what would become of me” (I picked up that phrasing from books). I worried constantly that they weren’t taking their vitamins. For a long time I thought it was normal for kids to worry about their parents dying, but I have since been informed this is not actually the case. My parents had to talk to me over and over about which aunt my sister and I would live with if they died. Far from reassuring me, for some reason this made my fear worse.

2) I also had a huge fear of fire. The area my parents live in often has droughts during the summer months, and sometimes the town will tell people not to water their lawns to conserve water. Combine this with learning about Smokey the Bear (and how one unattended campfire can cause a forest fire) and I was convinced our (brick) house was going to burn down every day.

Smokey the Bear(I took this sign a little too seriously)

To combat this, I ignored the town’s injunction over watering the lawn (rule bender, even then) and watered the…house. Yes, I would go outside and water our brick house during the summer. To keep it from burning down. No need to thank me, Mom and Dad. I’m here to help.

What kind of funny/weird/sad things do you remember about yourself from childhood? Do you think these memories influence who you are as an adult?

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10 thoughts on “Childhood Neurosis

  1. Too many to list but what leaps to mind first is that I used to make what I called Spring Paste in the wintertime. I was in love with this old tin bucket of my father’s, because it was old, seemed to come from another era (I used to wish I was born in “olden times”, too, and at one point I fervently wished I was Amish—this was after watching the Harrison Ford movie _Witness_). When it snowed, I would go out in our back yard with this old tin bucket and a little garden shovel. I’d scoop snow from various parts of the back yard into the bucket. And then I’d go around collecting bark from trees, shriveled frozen crabapples, grass, dirt—anything from the natural world—and I’d mix it in with the snow. This was my Spring Paste. Then I’d take one of my dad’s old paintbrushes and dip it in the mixture and “paint” it on the sycamore tree, the wooden fence posts, the bushes, the house, the deck, singing: “Spring Paste, Spring Paste, make the spring come/ Winter’s here, but winter’s almost done.” Sometimes I really really miss being a kid. Thanks for your awesome post.

  2. Ha ha, I love your sticker outfit.
    I used to want to live in the “olden times” too! I often played in the mud pretending I was churning butter and baking bread. Once in a while, I still think it would be cool to live back then. My husband teases me about my fascination with “the days of yore” and points out the things I would hate about it.
    Kids are so creative. What happened to us?

  3. I was a tomboy through and through. We used to steal my best friend’s brother’s GI Joes. Joe would beat up Ken and run away with Barbie. I wanted nothing more than to ride my bike over jumps, play football with the boys next door, and climb trees. However, I had to do it all in a Sunday dress. My mom was so pissed when I climbed a super tall pine tree in my brand new church dress (hadn’t even worn it to church yet). I got about 100 feet up (well it seemed like 100 feet to 5 year old me) and lost my grip. I slid down the tree, got sap all over the dress and even tore a few holes in it. I also cut up my tummy face and legs. That became my only “olay” dress. I wsn’t allowed to wear my dresseds out after that.

  4. Pingback: Patience & Sarah | The Mamas Rapscallion

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