Tag Archives: Childhood

Old Comforts

Its strange, isn’t it, that even after years of being grown up, old favourite childhood toys can still bring some comfort. I’m currently sat on my bed at home with Red Ted, Pink Ted, two other teds (that I can’t remember the names of but they both squeak), a pink rabbit, Kanga and Roo (named after Kanga and Roo, but not actually them) and Little Bear (actually Little Bear). And Nicola, my favourite doll, is sat on my chair, fully dressed and presentable, looking at me intently.

Every so often I enjoy getting all my old toys out of the cupboard and remembering the happy times we spent together when I was little. To be fair though, most of the teddybears I listed above were Rachel’s, except for Little Bear, who was very definitely mine. Along with the extra sets of clothes, made specially for him, after I told my Gran how sad it was that he only had one pair of trousers.

So what is it about these toys which still, after all these years, provide comfort? Is it the sentimental value? The memories? The need to hang onto the innocence of childhood when life isn’t amazingly great? Is it just me who enjoys a good old play every now and then? One things for certain – I’m not going to get rid of these toys for a Very Long Time.

Childhood

I have spent an hour or so this afternoon sorting out a cupboard with many of my childhood toys in. Board games from when I was younger, which my sister used to thrash me on. All of my playmobil and Brio train set, stacked up in boxes. Craft activities I’d been given for birthday presents, many of which were only ever half completed. My Dad’s weird and wonderful Christmas presents – exciting and unusual presents which were played with for a week or so, and then put away in the cupboard. I had great fun going through it all. Most of it I decided to hold onto, partly for sentimental reasons and partly because children in our house are quite common and games are very useful. But it certainly took me back a few years. Remembering all the hours of fun I had with everything in there.

Half way through this clear out I was reminded of just how much I’ve grown up. How much things have changed. Or not, as the case may be. The doorbell rang and I got up to answer it. There was a boy and his bike on our doorstep. I didn’t recognise this boy – there was a time when I knew all the children in the road, but since being at uni I don’t. He looked at me blankly and said ‘isn’t he in??!’ I replied ‘yes, he is – he’s just busy. Give him a minute’.

The boy was referring to my Dad. Who, ever since he used to fix mine and my friend’s bikes, has always been the resident bike fixer. His expertises have kinda been passed down through generations of children in our road. It always has been like that, but at the moment it seems to be more than ever. They’re always knocking on our door with flat tyres, dodgy bike fittings and even flat footballs. He seriously does have a little fan club of children!

As I said, hardly any of the children really know me anymore. Since I’ve been in Swansea there have been loads of new children on the street. There used to be a time when all the children looked up to me. I was the older, more responsible one, looking after the younger children. They all used to come calling at the door for me. Now children who call at the door only ever know and want, my Dad. I mean, its ok, because I’ve got my own life in Swansea now. Swansea is home. But it is just weird. How things change.

Watch out boys!

One of the good things about being home is that we get a chance to retell old family stories from when I was younger. Like the time my Grandad was up staying and in an attempt to take me out on my bike, climbed over all the junk in our garage to get to it, and then carried it back over all the junk. Only to be told my a 7 year old Jen that I’d grown out of that bike – my current one was even further towards the locked front garage door…. Oops. After the effort he had gone to get me a bike, whether the right size or not, I didn’t have any choice but to ride it!

The story that always surprises me the most is also about a bike, but not my bike. I was bought up in a cul-du-sac which had very little traffic, so all the children in the street would play together in the road. I think I must have been about 4 or 5, and I had decided to take Nicola, my precious doll out to play with me. At some point, I must have been distracted by a friend, and I left Nicola out in the road unattended. Also out playing, was an bigger, older boy. He was playing on his bike, and he had built a ramp in the middle of the road and he was seeing how far he could jump from it, on his bike. When he saw Nicola left unattended, he took her and placed her just beyond the ramp, and used her as an obstacle. I suddenly spotted him doing this to my poor, baby Nicola and was *not* impressed. According to my Dad, I picked up the nearest big stick and started hitting him with it. My Dad had to come and stop me from injurying him!

Anyone who knows me now, knows that this behaviour is completely out of character. Nowadays I would generally have to know somebody very well, before I would allow myself to display any anger – physically or verbally. And what I don’t understand about this story is that when I was 4 or 5, I was incredibly shy. I wouldn’t say boo to a goose. This boy I did know from the street, but I didn’t know him very well. I’m just surprised that I let my anger out in that way. I think it must have been a kind of motherly instinct. I really did treat Nicola like my child – except I suppose, leaving her in the street on her own! I was just enraged that somebody could have so little respect for my ‘baby’. Within my family, Nicola was usually treated with respect, and I wasn’t used to anybody putting her in ‘danger’ in that way.

But, in a way, part of me is quite proud of that 4 year old Jen. Standing up for her rights. Not being afraid to tell this bigger boy to leave my ‘baby’ alone. It is probably a good job my Dad intervened – as he says, his mum would have been after me, if I’d injured him! But I like to think I’d do the same now – not neccesssarily hit them with a stick, but if a boy mistreated myself or a good friend, then I would stand up for what is right. So watch out!

Theological Perceptions of a six year old

As many readers will know or will have gathered, I work with children. I love working with children and one of the things I love most about children is the way they naturally express their view of the world. They very often, just say what they are thinking, without any worries of what people might think. Some of the things they will say to you, are just classics! A few years ago I used to keep a quote book of funny things that children that i knew, had said to me. Unfortunately I’ve not kept up with it, but whenever I dig it out, I always have a good laugh! Quite often, although amusing, they can also have a very serious and deeper meaning, which is what makes children so magical and insightful.

One clear example I can think of, is something I said to my Dad when I was about 6. I toddled up to him, and said something along the lines of ‘Dad, in school I was told that the dinosaurs existed a long, long time ago, before humans were around. And in Sunday school, I was told that God made the earth in 7 days. So, where do the dinosaurs fit into the creation story?’ My dad smiled to himself, and said that I should ask X. X is a senior professor in old testement theology at a major university, and a good friend of the family. The next time I saw X, I went up to him and repeated the question. He did his best to explain to a naive 6 year old, that not everything is as simple as it might initially seem, and that lots of people believe lots of different things.

Looking back on that incident, I think it was a very insightful observation to make. I had no idea at the time that I had asked such a controversal question. I expected my Dad to give me a straight forward, black and white answer. Like, the dinosaurs were only on the earth for a few days before the humans came. Or they were on different parts of the earth, so they never actually met each other. I dunno, I had a creative mind.

Since then, obviously, I have established my own opinions about the creation story and evolution. But the purpose of this post was not to share them with you. I just wanted to demonstrate the inquistiveness of children’s naive minds. And how they, especially at that age, believe everything they are told. It really is something special, and it should be valued.