When you held the world in your hands
Remember how, as a kid, everything was larger than life? The formative years of discovery, learning, possibility and novelty were accompanied by gigantic ideas, gargantuan dreams and ginormous feelings. Those were the days of joy oozing from your pores, of fear that made you sweaty and nauseous and of disappointment that depleted your soul.
I was lucky. My childhood was easy and non traumatic. We were middle class people leading middle class lives with the average percentage of joy and sorrow dished out in our direction. Albeit a cultural melting pot, most of my friends, schoolmates and cousins were united by similar growing pains.
Devastation: a bad haircut, a pimple, not being picked for a team, a fight with your best friend, not being noticed by the boy you liked
Elation: being noticed by the boy you liked, a sunny day in the park with friends, skipping through puddles, a surprise trip to get ice cream, birthday presents
Fear: the dark, very old people, losing parents, being left out, the basement at night
Maybe, as kids, we needed to counterbalance our small physical size with big feelings. And I must admit that what came naturally then, has now, in adult life, become a committed and conscious effort to try and restore. Trying to recapture that youthful resilience that found you choking on sobs, distraught, on your bed one minute and racing down the street on your bike, with your hair flying, the next. And what about attempting to preserve childish enthusiasm in a world, now, seemingly gone numb.
In senior kindergarten I fell in love with reading. Books accompanied me along my journey to becoming a young adult and beyond. They consoled me, emboldened me, gave me hope and made me laugh, instructed and informed me; from the idyllic first years right through to the more tumultuous preteen period and beyond.
Menstruation, boys and friendship were accompanied by Judy Bloom’s, Are you there God? It’s me Margaret. I ran away and joined the circus with, Toby Tyler, by Otis Kaler, experienced poverty and harsh reality with Strawberry Girl, by Lois Lenski, imagined other worlds through The Borrowers, by Mary Norton, entered The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett and went back in time with Louisa May Alcott’s, Little Women.
These amazing reads have stood the test of time. Still today modern remakes of Black Beauty, Nancy Drew, and Alice in Wonderland confirm their relevance for a modern generation. In my library at home, there is a section dedicated to the books of my childhood. The same books that a little girl held and read while seated in her mom’s rock garden, hidden by the tall foliage or curled up by the fire on cold wintry afternoons during a simpler time when everything felt larger than life.