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SAW 14: Adult vs Child
What was your childhood like?
My parents divorced when I was 2, and my father didn’t want much to do with me. After living as the poor-ish children of a single mother, my one sister and I moved up to life with her new husband. He did not have much capacity for fatherhood, or for husbanding (or for adult life, for that matter…he and Mom ended up divorced) and Sis moved out as fast as she could, leaving me to live with their constant fighting and drunkenness and cigarette smoke. (Don’t worry! She and I are the closest possible friends now!) School was a nightmare of girl-bullies and friendlessness and loneliness. Sigh….all’s well now!
Do you remember what got attention/interest as a child?
I always wished to make museum exhibits (and had a number of failed attempts to turn my room into a sort of museum)! I loved going to the natural history museum. There was something so wonderful about the elegant combination of words, visuals and objects all conveying clear ideas understandably. It just sang to me. I loved swimming and trampolines, walking, running, climbing trees and biking. I wished for piano and guitar lessons, but didn’t get my way. I had one friend with whom I laughed endlessly when we could – rarely – get together. (Still love to laugh!) I was interested in Biology, loved Little Women and Jane Eyre, read every biography in the school library, and wanted to have a newspaper like my grandfather. I remember being affected by the breezy, funny letters of my Aunt June, whose joy in the simple pleasures of cooking and sewing and home rearranging was my first glimpse there could be any delight in homemaking.
Have you pursued childhood interests?
Well, I am working on a museum exhibit, and learning how to do an e-newsletter. I can’t do much of the physical stuff I loved, but I remain interested in Biology – especially in neuroscience.
What children are in your life right now?
My own youngest is 15, but friends come over with younger kids and always let me hold the babies. I have three grandchildren so far – 7, 5, and 2 – who are a six-hour drive away. My little goddaughter is close enough to hug more often. I don’t teach any young children, but enjoy seeing friends’ kids growing up nearby. If there’s a baby in your arms, pass him over! I can’t get enough baby-holding!
What do you enjoy/dislike about ‘kid time’?
I’m shy with kids. If they don’t seem to want anything to do with me, I back off and don’t want to impose upon them. I especially like sharing art time (you do your thing, while I do mine, and we’ll chat a bit as we focus on our work). I enjoy kids who can hang around and not need to be micro-managed. It’s hard for me to have a mama to talk with, and be interrupted by her kids, but I’ve been there, so I understand completely.
Do you sketch/paint? What artwork do you do?
I haven’t been sketching lately, but used to do a lot more. I didn’t learn how to draw (or even, that it could be taught!) until my mid-thirties. I’ve tried my hand at cartooning. I write stories and songs and poetry. I sing, but don’t yet play an instrument (well, a few guitar chords and some rank-beginner recorder tunes). I doodle for fun (have you seen those ZenTangle books?) and have sculpted an actual head-with-face under a teacher’s guidance. I had to bail on a pottery class I started, but have a wheel I hope to learn to use someday. I’ve done a lot of quilting, make scrappy stationery and cards for fun, and have played a wee bit with watercolor.
What are your three greatest struggles, or tensions?
- Family life with a husband who is less interested in spiritual stuff
- More ideas than time/resources
- Pain from an osteoarthritic knee
What have you had to give up as you’ve grown older?
- Dancing, running, and the like
- Career that involves making money
- Idealized notions of marriage
- Friends who dropped away when I became Catholic
- Demands that others grow up, or be perfect, or do better
What does it feel like to be aging?
A little bit scary (How dependent will I become? Will they take good care of me? Will they hate me for being a burden? Will I lose control?), and a little bit thrilling (I am getting close to Heaven! I’m getting braver all the time! I’m in the only ring that matters!).
Delight, with terror in it.
When do you feel like a little kid again?
When laughing uproariously with friends; when alone in the house dancing without inhibition as much as my knee allows; when at my sister’s house being served breakfast; when on a beach or in the ocean (or a sea-salt pool); when focused on drawing or doodling; when I see a ‘bird ball’ and feel instant delight; when at the zoo; when singing silly songs; when we have ice cream sundaes for dinner!
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