While I was waiting to find out whether or not my leg was broken I was getting around in a wheelchair. During this time I encountered a little boy who asked me why I was using it. When I told him my leg might be broken he seemed concerned and got down on the floor to conduct an examination. He looked at one leg and then the other. Then he stood up and declared emphatically, “No, they’re” not broken”. As it turned out he was quite right. He is a regular Doogie Houser! I wish I had seen him before I had my x-rays and the MRI. I could have saved a lot of money.
It was this encounter that made me realise how insightful kids really are. Even if it is just by accident. Here are a few lessons I learned from being a kid.
Recycling is fun:
I used to play with plastic bags. Not in a weird way or anything, I just pretended they were something else. If I was playing “schools” they were pupils or if I was an animal trainer they were dogs etc.
You might be wondering how this would work as a regular garden variety plastic bag from a supermarket in no way resembles either man or his dog. Well it’s simple, all you need to do is take the bag outside and allow it to be carried around by the wind. Voila! Ok, perhaps an element of imagination may also have been required.
I would take an arm-full of them outside, spread them out and line them up on the driveway and then the game could begin. I would talk to them, sing to them and move them about just as if they were real. Of course sometimes the wind was unpredictable and when it was, I could be seen berating them for running away as I chased them down the street. I’m sure the neighbours thought I was mad.
For the record I did have actual toys and a real-life dog. I even had friends (no really, I did). I just really liked plastic bags.
Patience is a virtue:
I remember once going on a “Christmas present finding mission” with my brother. We waited until Mum and Dad had left the house and then we searched high and low. I don’t remember ever doing this before but it was as if my parents were expecting us to do it. These gifts were well hidden.
Perhaps it was because the year before Mum and Dad had decided to tease us weeks before Christmas by placing two big and identical presents under the tree and telling us not to touch them. Torture! We didn’t touch them but what we did do was work out what they were.
Summer in Perth can be hot, very hot and at the time we did not have air-conditioning. We had a pedestal fan set up in the lounge room but at bed time we had to swelter. I know, first world problems. Anyway, after many attempts at guessing we finally guessed that they were fans and we put this to Mum. She didn’t confirm or deny but the look on her face gave the game away. I don’t think you have ever seen two happier children.
Back to the mission…
We searched everywhere even behind the toilet, although goodness knows what we hoped to find there. We were like sniffer dogs looking for drugs. Eventually, with all other areas exhausted, we tried the garage. We nosed around for a bit but became frustrated when our search came up with nothing. Where were our presents?
Desperate, we decided on one last possible hiding place. The top shelf. But alas, we were both far too short to reach. Or were we? Not sure who came up with the idea (probably me) but my brother, an adept climber got up on the roof of Mum’s Telstar and scanned the view. There they were. A pristine cardboard box containing one shiny new Razor scooter and a gleaming metal tin baring the name Trivial Pursuit, jackpot! The problem was now that we knew they were there we couldn’t wait to get our hands on them and we still had three sleeps to go. Damn.
A few days later they appeared under the tree beautifully wrapped. What a surprise. On Christmas morning when we finally got them, somehow some of the thrill you get when opening presents was missing. But who cares? I had Trivial Pursuit!
Sleep is good:
I was a person who hated sleep, what if I missed something?
I think this is a legacy from my childhood when I was cruelly (or so I thought at the time) sent to bed at 8pm on school nights. Western Australia was in one of its many daylight saving trials and so the sun was still up. My bedroom curtains were no match for the sunlight and the thought that there was still fun to be had was torture. This is one of the reasons why I am not a fan of daylight saving.
For any Western Australians still reading after that unpopular declaration I thank you. It can’t be that unpopular though, daylight saving didn’t stick, did it?
I was almost always the last kid standing. As other children around me were dropping off to sleep there I was still chatting away. Once I did finally get tired I would consent to being put to bed but not without a story. I heard “When the Moon was Blue” (my favourite book) so many times during my childhood that to this day I can still recite it word perfect.
Oh how times have changed! Nowadays I long for sleep and going to bed at 8pm is a luxury that almost never happens. I am also now a master of falling asleep anywhere whether I want to or not. I can fall asleep in a car, at a kitchen table, on the couch and I have even fallen asleep in the cinema whilst watching the latest X-men instalment. I still haven’t lived that down. I don’t recommend this though. It leaves you open to what I’m told is called “bungy head”. You know, when you fall asleep sitting upright and your head drops forward suddenly startling you awake.
So many of my friends have gorgeous children at the moment. As I watch them running around like little energizer bunnies dodging tiredness at all costs I feel as though I should tell them to conserve that energy. They might miss it in a few years’ time.