Growing up in Santaquin, our “front” bathroom (we called it that because it was toward the “front” of the house and the second bathroom was the “back” of the house…) was a narrow, fairly small bathroom with no windows other than a sky-light. The hallway through our house was very narrow as well, which prevented said bathroom from having a normal swinging door, so it had a sliding door, very much like the average sliding closet door. I had this memory pop into my head this morning, completely randomly, but I smiled thinking about the good memories.
I loved growing up in that drafty, creaky old house. My mentioning the front bathroom has a purpose, because it was the start of my memory this morning. My siblings and I used to go in there with a bouncy-ball, close the toilet lid, plug the sink, close the cabinets and sliding door and throw that bouncy-ball as hard as we could at a wall, or sometimes up into the sky-light and watch it bounce hell-crazy all around the bathroom until it either got caught somewhere, or hit one of us in the head. This was hilarious and we’d do it over and over and laugh hysterically. And we did it often.
My happiest childhood memories consist of us coming up with the most random ways to entertain ourselves. We never sat around and did “nothing”, or watched TV, or played Video Games (Video Games were something we rented once or twice a year (along with the console) – particularly Thanksgiving vacation, but never did we OWN one). We created games like “Roof-to-roof”, which was played on rainy days and was played by us running between the different awnings around our house trying to see who could stay the driest, and spent a lot of time climbing the trees in our back yard, convinced that we could see all the way to Provo if we climbed to the VERY top (realistically, it was probably just Payson -MAYBE Spanish Fork- we were seeing, but that’s ok…) All throughout the summers, we would sleep on the roof of the carport, or sometimes the roof of the house, as often as we could. For this very reason, I’ve told Bart that the next house that we buy (or if we’re able – BUILD) I want to have at least one section of the house that has a flat roof, so we can sleep on the roof on warm nights. We played “night-games”, which for one reason or another were 10 times funner at night than during the day, even though most of the games we played were easily “day-games” too 😛 NIGHT games, that had to be played at night, were mostly “Ghost in the Graveyard”, or even “Hide-and-seek” was funner at night, because we’d all dress in our darkest clothes and make it way harder for the person who was “it” to find us hiding. Sometimes we’d simply lay flat on the ground in Grandma-Mary’s (next door neighbor) huge back yard. When it was dark enough, you could potentially trip over someone “hiding” on the ground before you ever saw them. I miss the days when playing “Night-games” wasn’t considered dangerous and our parents didn’t really think about us getting kidnapped or murdered… I wish there was a way to keep certain things sacred, even to psychos. If kids want to enjoy playing games with their friends at night, it should just be universally untouchable by all bad people. LOL
My sisters and I used to put tights on our heads and pretend we had long flowing hair, or we’d crawl around gracefully on the back of the couches and pretend we were cats (often resulted in me falling off the back of the couch and getting bruises, but I never minded). I miss cushion “forts” and times when we would string bed sheets all around the living room to create HUGE clubhouses that basically prevented the living room from being used properly at all. I’m glad our parents never seemed to care. I don’t remember ever being scolded for pulling all the cushions off the couch, or COVERING the room with sheets. I do remember our Mom being a little paranoid about us sleeping on the roof and expressing her discomfort about it, but she still never forbid us from doing it. I always wanted to tie bed sheets around my neck so that I could run around with the biggest flowing “cape” there was.
I love the smell of tools, car grease and Home Improvement/Hardware stores, because they remind me of my Dad. Him taking me with him on service calls/jobs and letting me hand him tools. Once, while driving on the freeway heading to a job, he told me that you should never, ever “drink and drive”. On another drive, I saw him took a big long drink out of his water jug and I stared at him and said “YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DRINK AND DRIVE!” and he laughed. I didn’t see how doing something so dangerous could be so funny. Feeling SO cool riding in the “Jolly Green Giant” (My dad’s work truck that was dark forest green). His hands drumming/BEATING on the steering wheel while listening to “The Moody Blues”. Until I was at least 12 or so years old, in order to talk into my Dad’s “good” ear (he is completely deaf in his left ear) I had to hold out both of my hands, turn around so that I was facing the same direction he was and consciously think of which ear matched my left hand… once that was figured out, I could turn around and talk to the correct side. I love the creases next to my Dad’s eyes, which have been there as long as I have memory of, because he’s always smiling or laughing. I used to rub my fingers against those “laugh lines” and he’d say that I put them there because I was so funny.
Whether I see it, or simply smell it, “Oil of Olay” face cream makes me think of my Mom (I’m pretty sure she still uses it…). Every night before bed, she’d ask us if we brushed our teeth and when we said “yes”, she’d make us blow in her face so she could smell the toothpaste. Sometimes I lied and she’d make a twisted, exaggerated “EW” face that made me giggle myself purple (then she’d make me REALLY go brush my teeth!) She used to lightly rub my arms with her fingertips to make me fall asleep and I’d make request for songs for her to sing. My favorite song was “Our House”. Once, I had failed to complete my chores for the day (dishes) and she came home from work late that evening and saw the dishes still piled in the sink. I had already played all day, which I knew very well I wasn’t supposed to do without having done my “job”. She told me I had to wash the dishes before I went to bed and proceeded to sit at the kitchen table, patiently waiting, not saying anything, and stared at me while I stood at the sink crying about how tired I was and that I was probably going to die if I was forced to do ALL of the dishes before bed. I’m pretty sure I ended up falling asleep at the sink and to this day, I’m not sure if I finished those dishes, or if she did after I went to bed. Either way, every time I tell myself that I’m gonna do the dishes “tomorrow”, I have flash backs of that night.
My dad gave us a huge REAL chalk board and Heidi and I had it in our room. I was once REALLY angry at my Mom (for what, I have no idea) and she had made me stay in my bedroom. I wrote “I Hate Mommy” in big, huge writing on that chalk board and a little while later, Daddy came in to talk to me about whatever horrible thing I had done (and was for sure guilty of) and he asked me who wrote that on the chalk board. I lost all my fury and strength instantly and said “Heidi did!”
Wanting to tag along with Lena everywhere she went – sometimes she’d let me go, even if she was going to hang out with her super cool teenage friends. I admired everything about her from the way she walked, to her super frizzy 5 inch-high bangs to her faded frayed jeans with holes in the butt (she wore black stretch pants underneath).
Christopher teaching me to play basketball. Him shooting me in the leg (by accident) with a BB gun and the awe-inspiring speech about how guns were not meant to play with and he would protect his sisters by any means necessary if there ever came a time where he had to shoot someone with his BB gun. Christopher spraining my ankle the day before third grade; by swinging me around in circles (by holding onto only my ankle) and letting go, then the indescribable guilt he had as he stayed by me when I lay on my death bed from said ankle sprain.
Harmony forbidding me from touching her dolls or coloring in her coloring books, then every once in a while, she’d let touch her dolls with supervision and letting me have ONE page in her coloring book. Harmony teaching me to outline every picture before coloring it in, and coloring with light swoops, keeping your crayon/colored pencil going the same direction the whole time. Breaking/shattering (and ripping the toenail completely off) Harmony’s big toe by smashing the kitchen bench on it -while she was sweeping, I sat on the bench rocking it back and forth and her nicely saying over and over “stop swinging the bench, it’s gonna fall over!”
Sharing a bedroom with Heidi and her telling me not to touch her side of the room. I don’t remember how that worked out since we pretty much always had bunk-beds. Sometimes I thought Heidi had died in her sleep because she didn’t move or make any sounds. Once, when I was maybe 7-8 years old (which made Heidi 10-11), we were riding our bikes up and down the block and for reasons I don’t remember, she called me a Bitch. I screamed at the top of my lungs that I was going straight home and telling Mommy, which resulted in the most intense bike-race home that you can imagine. I FLEW down the street with her close at my heels, flailed off my bike the second I reached our house before my wheels even had a chance to stop spinning, RAN into the house, into my Mom’s bedroom where she and her friend sat talking and as loud and as strongly as I could muster, interrupting whatever conversation they were in the middle of, screamed “HEIDI CALLED ME A BIIIIIIITCH!!!” I don’t even remember what happened or what our punishment was (’cause I’m sure she punished us both… she never just punished ONE person because there was always at least a little fault on both sides). …Falling off the top bunk bed in my sleep… on numerous occasions… and I still wanted the top bunk. …Eventually my Mom made me take the bottom bunk – the way of convincing was telling me it would be easier for her to sing to me and rub my arms if I was on the bottom bed.
A few earlier memories (really, my EARLIEST) happened in our Genola house. We would play “butt bumpers” by sitting on the top of the stairs and gradually “bumping” our way down to the bottom on our butts. It’s no wonder we didn’t all have bruised/broken tail bones at one point or another… My Dad built my sisters and me a HUGE doll house with multiple levels and tons of rooms. When I say HUGE, I mean it was really huge. Heidi and I could fit in one of the rooms together if we curled up in a ball together. We still have that doll house. It’s currently at Lena’s house (disassembled, but still there!) I don’t actually remember ever playing with dolls in it (although I’m sure we did…) but I remember playing with the house itself ALL the time.
You know… as sappy as it may sound, I couldn’t be more grateful to my parents for the memories I have as a child. I have very few “bad” memories. I love that I still have close relationships with all of my siblings and that most of us (excluding Heidi, who lives in Washington ) live close enough that we can see each other often. Regardless of distance, I’m glad that we have close enough relationships to know what’s going on in each other’s lives and talk to each other often throughout the week to know even the smallest details. It’s sad to me that kids growing up right now don’t have the same freedoms I did when I was young, because the world is becoming a more and more unsafe, scary place. I hope that people raising small children right now can at least try their hardest to keep some of that innocence alive.