Welcome to the first month of the “Who I Am” project that my friend Dana at Kiss My List started, as a way to create a virtual scrapbook of your life to tell your kids, grandkids, spouse, friends, or whoever who you are. This month the prompt is “Childhood.” I wrote this as if I were speaking to Eve (and I suppose any other children I have in the future) and what came to me was a list of memories. I intend to add more photos to this post the next time I am at my parents’ house! Feel free to link up your own story at the end.
It may be hard to believe, but there was a time in my life when I wasn’t someone’s mama. In fact, there was a time when I was Nana and Grandpa’s little girl. (Though, I suppose, I will always be their little girl in their heart, just as you will always be mine.)
It was a really good childhood. Nana and Grandpa taught me well. They showed me what it meant to live in a house filled with love, family, and friends. I have memories of Grandpa taking me to Sbarro and Friendly’s on the nights Nana had to work late. I always ate a Reece’s Peanut butter cup sundae after my meal, even that time I was recovering from a stomach bug and it sadly ended up reappearing on the floor of the men’s bathroom.
I remember Nana reading to me, and when Auntie Danie was older reading to her. I used to love reading her a book about a witch, making her erupt in giggles when I read in a witch-like voice, “Soup from a stone, fancy that!”
I remember how I was always making something. On Saturday mornings I would wake up before everyone and spending what felt like hours entertaining myself by through learning origami and building with legos. (Those very same legos you like to play with when we go visit Nana and Grandpa!) Our basement, which looked very different back then, with a cruddy old couch that the previous owners had left and 70s-style dark tiles, was my personal playspace. I was constantly transforming our basement, rearranging furniture to make it a doctor’s office one day, complete with a spread of magazines on the coffee table, to a house the next. I know we don’t have the space, but I want you always to feel free to explore and create.
Nana made sure I had lots of art materials and always encouraged my creativity. I loved to paint, color, cut, and create, turning McDonald’s containers into works of art. (If you ask her she’ll tell you I inherited my creative genes from her mom, Beverly, after whom I’m named, even though I wasn’t biologically related to her. However, Nana inspired my creativity in her own ways, through calligraphy and her amazing little doodles in the corner of pages and on scraps of papers that she did when she talked on the phone.)
I remember our summer trips to Cape Cod and visits to see family in Boston, though I was convinced Boston was a certain hotel we must have stayed at frequently during those visits. I remember flying out to California to seeing Uncle Charlie and Auntie Lolo and lighting the Chanukkah candles with them. I remember going to Aunt Janis and Uncle Howard’s house for holiday meals and building intricate structures with cousin Adam’s wooden train set. I never had one myself, but I loved playing with wooden train sets, which is why I bought a set for our house.
I remember visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and not quite knowing how to talk to Grandpa after he had his stroke. I remember him before his stroke. I remember my Nana and when she slipped and fell on the ice. She must have been in a coma, but when you’re five you don’t really understand what that means. I remember talking into tapes and recording conversations (something you will likely never experience and I will gladly explain another time) to send to her, though I didn’t like it because it felt weird. I remember one day getting into trouble at school in first grade because, unbeknownst to me, I had gotten sand in a classmate’s eye at recess, and then the next day my teacher giving me a handwritten note that said she was sorry about my Nana who had died. I remember crying about her death years later because at age six I didn’t really understand what that meant. I sometimes miss her, or at least the idea of having her in my life more.
I remember my babysitter, Julie, who was so much more than a babysitter, she was like a grandmother to me. She often sang “A bushel and a peck” to me, which is why I now often sing it you.
I remember how excited I was the day Auntie Danie was born. I was five years old and in kindergarten. For a couple years I had been begging Nana and Grandpa for a baby sister. The day Auntie Danie was born school was canceled because of snow and I spent the day at my best friend Liz’s house. We made cards for Dana and bought her teething toys that smelled like vanilla. When I got to visit Nana and Danie in the hospital I was so excited. I remember hovering over her basinet on my tip toes kissing her over and over again. I also remember going home and sleeping in Grandpa’s bed and crying that I wanted my mommy.
I remember ballet, piano, art, and Hebrew school classes. I remember how much I dreaded piano recitals because I absolutely hated playing the piano in front of other people. I remember being shy and taking awhile to warm up to people and talking in front of large groups, but being loud and boisterous and full of energy with my friends. (There are the videos to prove it!) I remember being silly with my family. It took me a long time, but I mostly grew out of that shyness (though it does sometimes creep up on me.)
I remember summers at Camp Pinemere and leaving my family for a month at a time, despite being shy. It was a little hard that first summer, but I loved it.
There are so many things I remember about my childhood, both good and bad. This is just the tip of that giant iceberg of memories. I choose to share these because they are the ones that most stick out in my mind. I have learned from these memories and they have helped shape who I am today and who I am as a daughter, sister, friend, wife, and your mom. I hope that you will allow me to continue to share my story with you, as you will hopefully one day do with your own children.
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