Nature Woman challenged her readers to post some photographs from their childhood. At first, I scoffed at the idea. Could anyone be interested in seeing me at four days old? Surely not. Don’t all babies look the same, aside from skin, eye, and hair color I mean? They’re all babies, right? That means they’re all little people drawn by children with big crayons who give them big features and pudgy cheeks and wide eyes trying to take in the wonders of the post-womb world. Who wants to see that? It sounds terribly boring, does it not? One picture of a baby is pretty much like every other picture. Or so I think.
Besides, who would want to see me dressed in a sailor outfit at only one year old? Ha! No one, I bet. The very idea is embarrassing and totally uninteresting. After all, at one year old with a droopy diaper and a lollypop in my hand, not to mention a sailor’s hat on my head, I must have looked silly… totally silly. So what would be the point?
But the more I thought about her challenge, the more I wondered about the interesting, shameful, cute, and otherwise long forgotten memories I might find by looking through pictures from so many years ago. It could be fascinating, you know? I mean, who doesn’t enjoy some level of fondness digging blindly in memory’s vault, coming up with images and visions lurking in years past, and placing them with whatever disjointed remembrances that can still be recovered?
For example, imagine this: You’re a one-year-old child and you’ve discovered the dog’s ball. It’s red, fascinating, bounces, and the dogs chase it with abandon and glee never before experienced in your life. So what do you do? You join in and start fetching the ball just as the dogs do. Why would anyone want to share that kind of story? More importantly, would anyone want to share a photo of the experience on the intertubes where everyone in the world can find it, and subsequently point and laugh at the baby playing canine? I think not.
Despite my reluctance to participate in such an ill-conceived idea, I found myself taking increasing trips through photos from long ago. Each one told a story. They conveyed a history shared with others, an existence from so long ago as to seem detached from reality. And it was intriguing and fun, an exploratory walk right into the mental and visual crypt holding all manner of recollections and feelings.
One of the things I encountered on this hike was a reintroduction to my childhood security blanket. It was a stuffed parrot. At one time, its size undoubtedly equaled my own. But I grew and it didn’t, yet we didn’t grow apart. I even remember one of the dogs chewing it to shreds such that we discovered it literally all over the house one day. The experience shattered me. How could I possibly survive without that parrot? It seemed impossible.
Thankfully, Mom had major skillz with sewing and quickly restored to life that stitched and seamed bird. When she returned it to me full of stuffing and looking none the worse for its horrific experience, I nearly melted.
And I took it everywhere with me. That often meant it suffered from a dirt problem which Mom always had to tend to lest I live my life in constant suffering from parrot-induced impetigo. In fact, I remember once being around three years old and sitting in the back of one of the family cars with my siblings, and I held that damned parrot so tightly it undoubtedly neared implosion. But that was my friend, my security blanket, and I would never be caught without it. At least until I grew older.
[l to r: brother Fred, me with parrot, brother Wade, and sister Roni]
Honestly, are these the kinds of things I’d want to share with the world? Hardly.
So instead of posting any photos from my childhood that might come back to haunt me later, I decided I’d post something from when I was four years old, sitting at the dinner table, and wearing my cowboy disguise. I figure it’s best to post something where I can never be recognized than it would be to post something that might somehow be linked to the current me.
So here you go:
Now that I feel like I’ve met the challenge, I think it’s time to find some dinner. Now where’s that clip-on mustache and cowboy hat…
[Update] See Mom’s comment for a clarification on the sailor photo and her disclaimer on the dog’s ball.