I have a love/hate relationship with “Throwback Thursdays” on Facebook. I love seeing them, I hate that I have none to share. For a host of reasons, I have, um, approximately 10-12 photos of myself as a child. That’s from infancy to early teen years, folks. I am like a ghost, or a cool super hero known as The Invisible Child.
Part of this is because I am the youngest of four. The novelty of taking photos had worn off for my parents after their second child was born. But other than that, I can’t really explain the absence of even my annual school photos. My folks never divorced. We never moved. My recollection is that the photos were stuffed in a junk drawer in the kitchen, but who knows?
I remember as a kid when there was some sort of family event and my much older cousins were putting together a poster board of all the grandchildren. I didn’t make the cut. Instead, a second photo of my oldest sister was purposefully mislabeled with the excuse, “Well, you two look so much alike!” Pffft.
It stung then and it stings now.
In the big scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. I am here, healthy, with a safe home, loving husband, full pantry, and gas in my car. What am I whining about? Well, sometimes a gal just feels like whining, am I right? Today is one of those days.
Maybe its because as my sons gets older, I realize they will have little to no relationship to myself as a child. My Mom died ten years ago. My Dad is aging himself and not one to reminisence about the days I bounced on his knee and he called me “Crackerjack.” To a very real degree, I am grieving my own childhood. It’s Psychology 101. And it hurts like hell.
My older boy complains about me and my camera tracking him through his days. Not every day, but there certainly isn’t a photo op at a pumpkin patch or Santa’s lap or Easter egg hunt that I would ever willingly miss. Employing that Psychology 101 class again, methinks I am trying to create for him what I myself lack — a visual history, a representation of the where and the when, a visible childhood.
Once upon a time I was a little girl. I had a mass of unruly curls that my Mom tamed into two pony tails that she wrapped around her finger making long ringlets. The right ringlet always stayed put, but the left one often didn’t. The neighbor kids called me Noodles. I wore knee socks and yarn bows.
My first best friend was a little boy named Allan. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was 12. I got hit with a baseball in the back of the head while on a swing. My brother always looked out for me. I loved to eat pancakes and French Toast on Sunday mornings, then read the comics. I read too many books about Hitler and the Holocaust in the second grade. My proudest day was when I was picked to read in front of the whole school at Mass.
A girl named Lisa always beat me out for the best roles in school productions. I loved to dance and look through my older sister’s yearbooks. I was a very picky eater. And deathly afraid of dogs. My first crush was a boy named Todd. Math made me nervous. Reading and writing were my favorites.
Miss Kolavo was my favorite teacher at St. Jude’s and Mr. Konkol earned that honor in high school. I had a favorite priest, too. Sports were never my thing. I liked to choreograph dance routines to Broadway musicals and television commercials in the living room. We were the first people on the block with cable TV. I liked to watch my Mom and sister dress up and do their hair and makeup. I was one of the smallest in my class.
Words are the only snapshots I have to give my boys. They will have to be enough, for all of us. Take pictures, folks. Lots of them. And print them out. And date them. You will be lucky you did some day. Trust me on this one.