A Toddler's Memories Of Childhood
Writing is as painting a picture. My words have to make that picture clear to you, not visually, as in a painting, but mentally, allowing your own brain to form the image.
Painting A Picture With Words
As I sit down in front of my laptop this morning, I feel the urge so familiar to me. It is strange that on many days, I have no desire to write. This can last for months at a time and then, all of a sudden, the need wells up inside me so strongly, refusing to be ignored.
At times, this stems from some memory found in the recesses of my mind. Other times, it is because something emotional has happened in my life or the life of someone close to me.
Today, it is just an urge to put words on paper. Therefore, it took me a few minutes of quiet before coming to a conclusive moment in time to tell you about.
I find writing is somewhat like painting a picture. However, my words have to make that picture clear to you, not visually, as in a painting, but mentally, allowing your own brain to paint the image that I describe for you. Thus, a toddler’s memories are the pictures their brain saved for them.
Simply, our days are not really determined by what happens but more in how we react to the circumstances. It basically falls to our attitude.
As a child, we see these moments in time with a child’s mind, a mind full of imagination, wonder and sometimes perplexity in the so called logic of the adults around us.
Quite frankly, as a child, I enjoyed actually causing some of the adult reactions around the moments I created for myself.
Due to our move from the home of my earliest memories when I was three, I know these stories occurred during the summer, fall, and winter just before and just after my third birthday.
An Etching Of Imagination
I remember a warm summer day in the early fifties. First awakening in my room, I could see the walls of red. They were the color of the fifties, considered red, but more a deep rose in shade.
Slowly moving back the covers from the side of the bed against the wall, I could view a peeled area in the paint. With that first small chip, I had begun to fashion what I viewed as a ballerina, slowly chipping away the paint with my fingernail to etch the paint removal into the proper shape.
Do you have memories like this? Memories you never shared with the adults around you? First, because they would have reprimanded me for peeling more of the paint and second, I knew they would never see the little ballerina that I saw.
She was my secret, a friend who shared my mornings.
by Eugenia S. Hunt
Earliest Experience With Peer Pressure
On one such morning, after breakfast, my grandmother, who lived in the family home and was my caregiver in my parent’s absence, gave me permission to venture out into the back yard to play.
Soon, I heard children’s voices in front of our house. Of course, being a normal inquisitive toddler, I ran to the front to see what all the excitement was about.
There, I found the older children in the neighborhood lined across the road and, as a car approached, they would block the car from passing with their line of young bodies.
Now, why this was fun to them, as an adult, I have no clue. But they were laughing and thought it great fun to make the horns honk for passage.
Suddenly, Anne, who lived several doors down, spotted me and offered to allow me to join them. I was ecstatic to be included in the games of the older children and ran quickly to my designated place…right in the middle of the line of boys and girls…right in the center of the street!
Soon, an old T-Model came lumbering down the street. The Ooga sound of its distinctive horn must have brought my grandmother to the front window. I will never forget the look of horror on her face as she ran across the front yard with her arms in the air, screaming my name.
I was both perplexed at her anguish and annoyed at being embarrassed in front of my new friends.
As an adult, I totally understand her fear but, as a toddler, she really spoiled my afternoon!
A Lesson In Obedience
There were two sisters who lived a few doors down from us. Susan was a very sweet girl and the older of the two at the age of eight. However, her younger sister, Anne, who was six, was always up to no good. For some reason, she decided terrorizing me was a great past time. Yes, the same Anne who parked me in front of the T-Model!
When I was an infant, in my stroller, my mother stopped her just in time as she tried to poke a stick into my right ear.
Obviously, I was told to stay in my own yard and away from Anne. But toddlers being toddlers, without a fenced yard, do wander.
One afternoon, I saw Susan in their yard by their swing set. Since I loved her, I decided to venture down there. Anne was no where in sight. However, just as I got there, Anne came out the door. She walked across the yard and up to me. At that point, she slapped me…just slapped me, saying nothing.
I went home immediately in tears but, when my grandmother asked why I was crying, I simply said, “Anne slapped me!” Never once did I tell that I had gone to her backyard to get slapped!
Years later, I told this story to my mother as an adult and she threatened to spank me right then and there, both for disobeying and for my lack of honesty!
Saturdays With My Grandmother
On many Saturdays, my grandmother and I would catch the city bus early in the morning for a shopping trip. We would ride the bus into town, getting off on the square where all the most important shops could be found.
Sometimes, we would have my picture taken at Belk’s department store where I loved to go. It always smelled so good, they had an escalator I loved to ride, and there was a lady who kept orange slices (candy) behind the counter and would always give me one while my grandmother shopped. I also loved to watch them send the receipts up the suction tubes to the office.
On the second floor of Penney's was a huge rocking horse who kept me company as my grandmother moved around the store.
Back then, I didn’t know which was better...the horse or the escalator!! Now, I find it is the fact that I could be left unattended and was still safe.
After shopping, we would walk down the street to Woolworth’s for a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and coca cola in a small bottle.
On one of those Saturdays at Woolworth's, my grandmother bought me the most beautiful purple ribbons for my pigtails. I think that was the day my love affair with the color of purple was born!
When it was almost time to catch the bus home, we would walk back to Belk’s where they had seats inside the front entrance of the store. There we would wait for the bus as young mothers sat with us, feeding their babies. In those days, this was so natural to
me, painting a beautiful picture in my young mind’s memory.
On the ride home, I would want to sit by myself and my grandmother would always get very annoyed with me. But I didn’t know how to explain to her the reason for my need to ride in a seat alone.
There was a pole attached to the back of each seat. If I sat alone, holding onto that pole, I could imagine a Carousel. I could see the colored horses, feel the cool of the metal pole in my hand, and transport myself to that Carousel, riding it all the way home.
My grandmother just did not fit into this picture and, therefore, each Saturday we battled with her logic and my toddler’s imagination.
Very First Wheels
On my third Christmas, I received, from Santa, a blue tricycle. I was so thrilled to be able to ride along when accompanying my grandmother on walks.
Just a few houses down our street of Cunningham Drive was a big hill. It loomed high above me as a three year old. In later years, I drove down that street as a teenager, finding the hill much smaller than the hill of my memories.
My mother worked close to the home and walked to and from work. One nice afternoon that spring, my grandmother and I decided to meet her halfway and walk her home.
Of course, I wanted to take my new tricycle and ride along with them. I was allowed to take it. However, due to my difficulty riding it up that dreaded hill, I had to get off and push it…unhappily!
But I tried to appease myself by remembering that, on the way back, I could ride easily downhill.
Once we met my mother and started back, due to safety reasons, I was made to get off once again and push it down the dreaded hill.
Needless to say, my new tricycle remained at home the next time we went to meet my mother.
I remember my coat. It had a dark purple, velvet collar and
Leaving Behind My Toddler Years And Our Home
In May of my third year, we moved away from my home, my little ballerina, and the dreaded hill.
When we went to see the house my father was considering as a good purchase for us, I was thrilled to find that there was a little black pony in the garage off from the house.
When I heard that my parents had purchased this very house, I couldn’t wait until moving day.
As we drove up into the yard, I plunged out of the backseat and hit the ground at a dead
run. I couldn’t get to that little garage fast enough.
To my horror, my pony was no where to be found. My father found me in the garage minutes later, sobbing uncontrollably.
He was sorry for my tears and disappointment over the absence of the pony but, of course, had no idea that his little three year old daughter thought the pony was part of the purchase deal.
To Draw Without An Eraser
As I look back on those years and my memories, I realize how fortunate I am to be able to remember my years as a toddler. So many do not remember those years of imagination and wonder. How wonderful it was to take life at its face value, never finding the need to analyze the whys of your existence.
I am thankful for the sixty years God has given me and for all the blessings that lay in the storehouse of my memories.
And I am thankful in anticipation of what he has in store for me today and in the tomorrows to come!
God has always been so very good to me, never leaving me to this life alone, just as my parents and my grandmother were always there to watch out for me, despite my efforts to place myself in danger.
“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” John W. Gardner
(Photo: My grandmother, Grace Martin Ledbetter)
Once my mother read this article, she told me that she
made the dress I am wearing by hand. I remember the
locket I am wearing and was only allowed to wear it for
photographs and to Sunday School on Sundays.
From The Mouths Of Babes
We Find Wisdom
Childhood Lesson Of Obedience
When you look back at some of your mistakes, how far back do you go? As children, we measured our mistakes by our parents reactions. What was the first mistake that you recognized as your own fault? For me, it was the day of my seventh year, when I stopped on my way home from school to visit. This resulted in a two and a half hour delay, sending my parents into a panic.
The Wisdom Of Children
Have you ever considered the vast wisdom in the innocence of a child's thoughts? At fifty-eight years old, I realized recently, I have been raising children, in some semblance, for forty-eight years. That is a long time! When I look back over the years, I see their beautiful faces filled with wonder and love and it makes me smile. Then I remember their sense of humor as they learn about the world around them and I laugh out loud.