My Aunt gave me a challenge this week to write her a poem about childhood, and after writing my blog on love – which managed to depress me deeply for the whole weekend (!) – I very much enjoyed writing this poem. It made me think how fleeting childhood is especially watching my son grow up who is now a very tall 14 years old with enormous feet! Not sure what I am feeding him ……So with a whimsical smile all the time I wrote my poem, feeling the happy memories of childhood come back where just climbing a tree brought such pleasure and those feeling of excitement that used well up and up in me till I thought I would explode! Of course not all of childhood was great with those mixed up feelings as you the approach teenage years and the beginnings of pressure and responsibility but on the whole I think most of us would like to have a little time of being a child again. It’s still there, some of those feelings of childhood – I still love playing card games, I love spending time with nature and dipping my toes in the sea and much much more. I have loved being a mother living some of my childhood through my son as he was growing up. In fact I very much miss those years now and wish I had had more children.
For many years now it has been hard to find the child inside me, and only had snatches of it. Being blighted with fear, depression and illness has brought with it many burdens of adult responsibility and angst and also in many ways made my son grow up quicker in some areas than he should have done.I had a happy childhood and feel honoured to have had one like this because many people have not had happy childhoods and maybe only fleeting memories and glimpses, and the pressures of living in this world today means that the nature of childhood has also changed with what I feel has been a loss of innocence. But then the nature of childhood is always evolving and changing across different cultures, through the ages and due to poverty, wealth and affluence.
In fact when I come to think of it many of my childhood traits have stayed with me – I find it easy to approach and meet people but hard to maintain meaningful friendships (although this has go easier as I have got older and funnily enough improved since I have had cancer!). I know many people who still have some of their childhood traits and usually it is not the better ones - probably because the negative kind of childish behaviour is more noticeable!More importantly to me now, again since having cancer, is to try and capture some of those childhood feelings of being carefree, taking the time out to experience some of the more simple pleasures, to be more spontaneous, to feel the excitement of life and express the feelings of pure joy and to freely laugh – doing more things that I enjoy and sharing more things that my son enjoys. With life being full of worry over the last few years my son has missed out on having a mother who enjoyed those years of his childhood and, although the things he enjoys now are different, I don’t want to pass this by much longer before it’s too late because soon he will grow more and I may have to wait until I have grandchildren to be able to see through a child’s eyes again – and that could be a long wait!
Having cancer can be liberating in many ways because you do re-evaluate your life priorities, and although I am not at full strength yet and have days when I still don’t feel well despite treatment now well over three months ago, I have now have the freedom both inside and out to feel that I can once again explore the pursuit of happiness and find more of that child within.
So here is the poem
So here is the poem
Have you ever ….
Have you ever cycled down a steep steep hill feet off the pedals wind in your hair, and danced in wild abandon in the pouring rain? Have you ever skipped through a sun beamed meadow without a care in the world, on lush green grass making daisy chains?
Have you ever bounced and bounced as high as you can a springing jumping bean turning and spinning till dizzy? Have you ever smelt the air of candy floss, and felt the trepidation of rides all whirly and whizzy?
Have ever been frightened of monsters in your wardrobe dived under the covers quivering with torch in hand, escaping the menace of shadowy shadows startling at every creaky sound - barricaded by teddies taking a stand?
Have you ever walked on your hands, stood on your head, did rolly pollies or cartwheels down the hill, bent like a crab, or leapt on your bed until the springs creaked or just tried to see how long you could stay still.
Have your ever sat in a box and whiled away your time - it’s a house, it’s a car, it’s a boat a plane high in the sky? Have you ever been a super hero saving the world, a gun totting cowboy an Indian, a princess a spy?
Have you ever had an invisible friend, a language all of your own, felt surrounded by others but left out of the a group in isolation, the delusion of inclusion, breaking and making friends without hesitation?
Have you ever been tallest, the smallest the strongest the weakest the fastest and ran a race just to take part? Dribbled and kicked, hula hooped, skated, arm wrestled, knuckled, hopped skipped and jumped just for a lark.
Have you ever had scraped bloody knees, fell out of a tree, been muddy from head to toe? Have you ever skimmed stones on a shimmering pond, splashed in puddles, swung high in the air and slipped down a slippery slope going with the flow?
Have you ever had a loving squashy bear hug, a sloppy wet kiss, played hide and seek, pleasure from just holding hands? Have you ever had wide toothless grin, wriggly giggles from tickly tickles been patted on the head, and pinched on the cheek?
Have you ever been in your own fairy tale, in magic just trusted and believed? Scared of Snow White’s wicked evil witch, had eyes as big as saucers in awe and wonder and that sinking feeling when you have been deceived?
Have you ever been an angel, shepherd or donkey, acted, sang out tune and wobbled on a stage, shouted “oh no it isn’t “ or “ look behind you”, cheered and booed and clapped till it hurt, or couldn’t wait to turn a page?
Have you ever been trekking blackberry picking, stealthily stole apples from a tree, built a secret camp out of twigs and branches, or dug a hole in the sand? Have your ever warmed your hands by a crackling fire, sat on the beach starring out to sea trying to understand?
Have you ever felt the thrill of a dark night under canvas, staring into the heavens, looking up at a starry night sky and the man in the moon? Stayed up to late planning midnight feasts, thrill of not going to bed being up with the freshness of dawn.
Have you ever had a petulant frown, tantrums before bedtime and felt that life just isn’t fair; been selfish for your own gratification, just wanting attention, stamped your feet in pure frustration and sulked in a corner with a glare?
Have you ever been so excited just by anticipation of a special occasion, questioning and questing till the answer you get? Have you ever longed and yearned for time off from study then bored in the hot summer days ahead and adventures never met?
Have you been boastful of achieving and hid about failing being wrong and said you were right? Cried on stair listening to murmured conversation, been sent to your room in quiet isolation, moaning and wailing about your plight.
Have you ever sucked ice-cream from the bottom of the cone, enchanted by penny mixed sweets? Have ever ate chocolate until you felt sick, stuffed with a roast, sponge and custard and then wanted more treats.
Have you ever just snuggled snug and warm in bed with those you most love, a moment of safety all secure, dreaming of all the things that you want - whispering secrets and muffled laughter all so innocent and pure.
Have you ever challenged the status quo came up with your own style or just wanted to create? Glue on your hand a second skin, a picture of superlative paint, ribbons and stickers, all things that glitter a kaleidoscope colours and things to make.
Have you ever been elated by a shiny new coin under your pillow and shouted with joy at the top of your voice, everything all fresh and new? Have you ever experienced such seasons so simple yet complicated safe in the things that you knew?
It has to be said if you never had these things, a childhood you have never led. This is just a sample list and to my mind much has been missed, the memories of innocence, joy and pain lost in the mist of time.
But It’s not too late to feel the child within and snatch back some of these carefree days, for child in you never go away despite the of burden of adult ways.
“That great Cathedral space which was childhood.” - Virginia Woolf“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colours are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” - Elizabeth Lawrence
“It is never too late to have a happy childhood” - Tom Robbins“Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains...” - Diane Ackerman
“Childhood is the world of miracle or of magic: it is as if creation rose luminously out of the night, all new and fresh and astonishing” – Eugene Ionesco“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” Tom Stoppard
“Jesus said, "Let little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." - Matthew19:14