There was a childhood game we played on our front lawn at the farm, on warm sunny afternoons when a sufficient number of cousins showed up to join us. It was better than Simon Says, Hide and Seek, Red Light or Mother May I, although we gave all of those a thorough going over too.
If this game had a name, I don’t remember what it was. Everyone played a role, and the ‘play’ had a predictable plot that hardly varied. And yet we repeated it over and over. There was a parent (usually a mother), a wicked old witch, and the rest of the cast were the children.
The mother gave each of her children a name, based on some previously agreed upon category, the most popular being ‘fruits’. These names were not shared with the witch, so Blueberry, Banana, Lemon and Purple Grape had to keep their identities to themselves.
After making the following little speech –
“I’m going down town to smoke my pipe and I won’t be back until Saturday night – DON’T LET THE OLD WITCH IN!” –
the mother would saunter off to the sidelines leaving her children home alone (on the front veranda) to fend for themselves.
Enter the old witch center stage, respectfully knocking on the door and asking to come in. Well of course the children say no because they are good little children who always do what mother says. Then the witch explains to them that she is making a pie and needs to borrow some fruit. Do you have any apples, she might ask. She continues to guess until she hits on the name of one of the children, and then off that child must go (across the lawn to the snowball bush beside the lily pond) to where the wicked witch resides. Here the witch changes the child’s name to a category of her own choosing – birds, for instance, and Blueberry might become Sea Gull in the blink of an old witch’s eye.
Mother saunters home, noticing immediately that one of her children is missing. The kids are afraid to tell her the truth and make up various stories as to where their sibling might be, but eventually they have to admit that the old witch got her.
Mother and children don’t learn much from this, and keep repeating the same mistakes of going down town and answering the door until all the children have been kidnapped by the witch and all their names have been changed.
Now it’s the mother’s job to march across the lawn to the snowball bush to confront the witch with her crime. The witch tells her that the only way to get her children back is by guessing their new names. There are no fruits here, only birds. If mom looks ready to give up, the kids or the witch can give her hints. Maybe the witch is having second thoughts about all these kids cluttering up her living space and making all that noise.
One by one the children are released and returned to the front veranda, renamed as farm animals this time, and on the game goes until all of them begin to suffer from identity crisis issues and start asking – “hey, wait, who am I again??”
Why did we love this game so much? Why was the mother so negligent, and the witch considered wicked? She was just taking abandoned children to a safe place after all and never harmed them. Unless naming someone Watermelon can be considered a horrible thing.
I know there are many variations of this game, although the pipe smoking rhyme seems to be the one thing that doesn’t change. Did you ever play this? Or was there another childhood game that you loved and will never forget?
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder
Just Jazzy Advent Calendar
It’s another lovely Prompt for the Promptless from Rarasaur, and another lovely word for which there is no exact translation into English.
Saudade is a Portuguese word that describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something/someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return.
Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one’s children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. It brings sad and happy feelings all together, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.
Above text and lots more information at : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudade
This fuzzy picture to me represents a saudade feeling or moment, because it elicits memories and emotions which are both happy and sad.
Let’s get the sad parts over with first.
1. Mom and Dad have been gone for almost five years. They aren’t coming back, except in my head. I miss them.
2. I miss wearing pink pants. Come on, you have to admit that pink pants and missing wearing them are both incredibly sad things.
3. This was my Aunt May’s house. She’s gone too. And for all I know, so is her house. Perhaps the world misses her decorating skills.
4. I miss having dark brown hair. But my old face and aging skin doesn’t.
And now for the happy stuff.
1. I was going to crop off those crooked pictures at the top of this shot, but decided not to. There’s a weird kind of symmetry going on here – three pictures, three pillows, three people. One crazy couch from the eighties. A happy little moment in time.
2. I remember mom was always smiling and laughing. Unless she was sleeping. Although it’s possible she smiled and laughed in her sleep too.
3. My dad was a handsome man his whole life. He often put on a serious face for photographs. But he was rarely serious.
4. There was a whole period of my life when my kids were growing up that flew by in the blink of an eye. I don’t remember being unhappy, so I guess I wasn’t.
I don’t long to go back in time, although I’m glad to remember the happy times. I don’t think remembering should make a person sad. A little nostalgia is fine, and knowing what your journey was like to get to this point is great knowledge to have. But it’s today that’s important. The here and the now and the joy of this exact moment. Being exactly who we are. Making happy memories with the people we love. The love we share now will be the love that remains tomorrow.
Life is short – I don’t want to waste a minute of it on emptiness and longing.
Starting over in time is not possible no matter how fervently you might wish for it. Time marches on, and do-overs of your past are nothing more than head games. Stop torturing yourself with regrets, wondering how things might have turned out if you had done them differently. You can’t change where you’ve been, but you can start now and head off in a different and better direction. Starting over means starting from where you are now. Here’s a starting over list to get you started.
1. You can’t go back and start your childhood over again. For one thing, your parents are too old for that now and would never be able to keep up with you. And it’s just too difficult to find onsies in your size.
But you can still build a fort out of the couch cushions, color a picture with your crayons and tack it up on your fridge, or leap from one piece of furniture to another to avoid the lava and the monsters whenever you feel like it. Try not to break your neck – you’re not five years old anymore. But no matter what age you are, it’s still okay to cry when things go wrong. You can still laugh hard and play hard and love with all your heart.
2. You can never take back the words you’ve spoken, or written, or sent by text. Once they’ve left your mouth or your pen or your fingers, they will forever belong to whoever heard or read them. They have power. Will they be hurtful or helpful? It’s not possible to un-say something, so try very hard to get it right the first time. When all else fails, blame temporary insanity and auto-correct.
3. You can’t unbreak things. But you can try to mend them. As in the case of ‘hearts’ for instance. But if we’re talking about some piece of crap junk that never worked right in the first place, save yourself some grief and agony and get a new one. It’s only a thing. It won’t hold a grudge.
4. Baking cannot be unburned. But there are windows you can open to let the smoke out.
5. If you are a parent who has your childs best interests at heart, you still will not always do or be what they need most. Forgive yourself. You are human and you will make mistakes. Learn from both your kids and your blunders, start over from here and try to do better.
6. If it’s not possible to start over in a new job, start making small changes that will help to make your present job easier. You can’t change the people you work with, but you can change the way you act and react with them. You can change your attitude. I’m not suggesting it’s easy to do that, but I am telling you it’s not impossible.
7. You might not be in a financial position to burn your house down and rebuild it, but you can start over in one room, or in one small section of a room, and renovate and reorganize and revamp until you’re so happy with the results you want to spend all your home time in that exact spot. Well, you know, within reason. Hopefully we’re not discussing a closet here.
8. It may be a little late in your life to start over with a brand new career, but it is never too late to learn a new skill or to change the path you’re on. It’s never too late to teach someone else the things you know.
9. You can’t start over from the beginning and have a better relationship with somebody. And it’s a very sad thing to discover that the person you wanted to be closer to has suddenly gone from your life and that you will never have the chance to work on that relationship and to know him better. Learn, learn, learn from this. Don’t wait for the bond to miraculously form on its own, start working on it now.
10. You can never start over and take better school pictures of yourself and change that geeky face that only a mother could love. You can’t re-write your high school year books or change who your friends were or any of the decisions you made as a young adult. But you can learn to love the person you were, and know that the choices you made then are the reasons you have become who you are now.
Right this minute, tomorrow morning, next week – you can start over from wherever you happen to be. The changes do not have to be sudden or tumultuous. Second chances and new beginnings can start small, and from deep within.
This is where you’ve landed – now spread your wings and fly.
The best childhood lessons are the ones we figure out on our own. You know that kid you shake your head at while you roll your eyes and remark that he’s just going to have to learn everything the hard way? Sometimes the strongest people are the ones who start out that way.
It doesn’t really matter for a lot of us how cajoled and threatened and showered with advice we are while we’re growing up. There’s a stubborn streak that questions the rules and the reasons for them, and makes us stomp off in another direction to do whatever we want.
There are always consequences of course. And little ‘ah hah’ moments when we finally get it. Or gleeful moments of triumph when we prove, if only to ourselves, that the rule was stupid and useless in the first place.
My earliest memories revolve around being made to do things that were unpleasant but supposedly GOOD FOR ME. Eat your porridge. Take your vitamins. Wear a hat. Go to bed early. Respect your elders. Be polite. Wash your hands. This time with soap. Please be quiet.
I remember sighing a lot, and dutifully doing whatever I was told. Wondering why the fun things were bad for me, and the irksome disagreeable things were always for my own good. That must have been my four year old mind-set the day I decided to eat dirt.
The texture and the taste is something that has always stuck with me, never mind whatever ‘lesson’ I had dreamed up for myself at that particular moment. I do recall anticipating that the experience would no doubt be awful, but something I should just do so that I could get it over with and thus become a better person.
I also remember my brother being grossed out and telling on me. And how unfair life seemed if it was always going to be so hard to get things right.
Is that the day I began to nurture the tiny seed of rebellion? Maybe. It may not have been a coherent thought in my childish little head, but I’ve never forgotten figuring out that icky things were not necessarily good, so it had to follow that boisterous fun was not always bad. That black and white produced lovely shades of grey.
I still distrust being told what to do. I question advice, well-meant and otherwise. I know that doing something for my own good which is making me truly miserable should send me off immediately in another direction to find a different way of reaching the same goal. What is good for you may be wrong for me. If I believe that, it will be hard for you to change my mind.
Because since that epiphanous childhood day, I no longer eat dirt.
When I was a kid I was smitten by Zorro – a dashing and handsome black clad outlaw wearing a mask, riding a horse, brandishing a sword, and always arriving in the nick of time to save the victims from the villains. He had a flowing black cape, a whip and a mustache. Who would NOT want to be him?
I greatly admired that he was acrobatic and agile and smart as a fox. A master swordsman, a great marksman, a skilled horseman! (His hat was kind of stupid, but I forgave him for that.)
The most brilliant thing he did was to leave behind his mark when a situation had been satisfactorily sorted out – zip zip zip with the tip of his sword – a flaming Z!
And then as he galloped off into the sunset someone would always ask the inevitable unanswerable question – Who WAS that masked man?
I loved that show. If only I had been born a Spanish-speaking boy. Once I took a pencil and wrote on my bedroom wall in various sizes and scripts with hearts and swords and flowers “I love Zorro!” I told mom that my brother did it. Unfortunately I was not as foxy as my hero and no one was fooled.
For awhile I practiced signing my name as Don Diego de la Vega and calling everyone caballeros and wishing I could grow facial hair. And then, sadly, I left childhood and Zorro behind me and turned into a boring girl with no talent for the Flamenco. Such is life.
This was not necessarily a favorite; I just tried to remember the first movie I ever saw. We didn’t have a t.v. until I was 9, but in the summer we used to go as a family to the drive in theatre, so that’s probably where I watched this tear jerker. It made me wonder where in the world such a smart dog came from, because we certainly never had one that was constantly saving us from injury and disaster. For months afterwards I quietly observed all of our farm animals for any of the signs and symptoms of rabies and worried about what we would do if it came up, because my dad didn’t own a gun. Ah, the traumas of childhood.