|I'm the oldest. These are a few of my siblings + our dog Blackie.|
I don't remember much about when I was little. That's probably the result of a somewhat stressful existence. I have found, as I get older, that children are very resilient. Pictures tend to show a happy side of childhood. In fact, I had no idea how stressed and overwhelmed I was or how different our lives were compared to others because I didn't know any better at the time.
My brothers have a much better memory, and while I think that their experiences were less stressful than mine, they did have to deal with their own share of garbage. Now, because they are good storytellers and they have good memories from this time, they regale us with humorous tales after dinner parties. Of course one has to laugh to keep from crying.
I didn't quite realize how controlled our childhood was until Bestie #2 pointed out that it wasn't normal for children to get a beating for getting into the fridge or cupboard between meals. One of my brothers said that he remembers a shocking day in fifth grade when he was visiting a friend: the friend stood up in the middle of playing, went to the fridge, and got something to drink. You can do that?!? You can just get something to drink any time you want?? It was a new concept. Honey said that he was aware of this eleven years ago during the first overnight stay at my family's house (we were visiting for the weekend, I believe). In the morning we had a pancake breakfast -- which meant, in my world, that everyone got one pancake. Apparently this was a shock to Honey, who still put up with it nicely.
Yes, we were poor growing up. But life was also quite controlled. There is a reason why when I participated in a mini-boot camp as a teenager it felt like a week's vacation. There is a reason why I knew how to wash clothes in a bucket when visiting Vietnam a few years ago and why I was okay with taking showers using two gallons of water in a bucket. There is also a reason why I absolutely hate camping and refuse to "rough it" any more as long as I am in the States. (I can be flexible elsewhere.)
I do not wish my former life --at least the few bits & pieces I can remember -- on anyone. But in all honesty I have to be thankful for all of these experiences because they made me able to relate to the kids that I taught and the experiences made me the tough person I am today.
(At least tough on the exterior. Inside I'm a big softy full of insecurities. But you probably already knew that.)