Monday, January 07, 2019

How my childhood shaped me

In a comment on my previous entry by Internet friend Margaret, ever the teacher, she posed this question:  “How do you think your experiences have shaped you?”

Boy, did that ever make me ponder, and I came to realize something:  Even though I was a natural loner as a child, I never realized how out-of-step I was with other people until we became city-dwellers.  In a small-town and farm community, people seemed to accept others even if they are different.  But after we moved to Kansas City when I was in the middle of the sixth grade, I looked around and realized “one of these things is not like the other”... and I was the odd one out!  Most of my clothes up to this time had been made by my mother, so I dressed differently than the other kids in the big city school; I was still wearing the clothes of a little girl, cotton dresses that had a bow tied in back; the other girls wore styles similar to what teenagers and adults wore,

can-can slip

Daddy’s first job in the city didn’t work out, and he was out of work awhile before he found a permanent factory job.  We must have been living pretty close to the bone, because I recall being the only girl in school who didn’t have a can-can slip.  Now at that time, girls would wear two or three of those slips at once, and my parents couldn’t even afford one!  This was also the time when sack dresses came into style; one of my friends had a burlap-sack dress, the only one of its kind I ever saw.  

Oh yes, in sixth grade I did still have some friends.  Three or four of us girls would hang out together on the playground at recess.  It was when I got to Junior High that I really turned into a wallflower.  

Part of the problem was the fact that we moved so often, so I changed schools, from North Kansas City high school (which included junior high) to Northgate Junior high.  It’s a terrible feeling to show up at a new school where nobody knows you, and this happened to me all through school.  Then it was back to North Kansas City High School again, a huge school indeed!  Changing classses all the time, with different people in each class, didn’t make for close friendships, and this is when I truly became a loner... and learned to like it that way.  I had NO friends (except a couple of my sweet girl cousins, and I only saw them in school).  I kept to myself more and more.  While other people were dating and running around with friends, I was going home, shutting myself away in my bedroom, and listening to my records of all the teen idols of the day (and don’t forget Elvis).  I never once had a date while I was in high school, although I was asked a couple of times; I turned them down cold.  My mother tried to fix me up with a “nice church boy”, but that was a disaster.  I wasn’t interested.  He came by for a visit a couple of times, but I retreated to my room and he was left talking to my mom.  I was just more comfortable keeping to myself.  Mother was a very social person.  She loved people, and had loads of friends wherever she went.  I’m sure she was dumbfounded at my behavior.  

Cliff and I sometimes discuss the difference in our upbringings.  We were both from relatively poor families, but my parents always paid their bills; his parents didn’t.  My parents went to church three times a week... except for one brief period of a year to two Cliff recalls, his parents didn’t attend church much.  He says this is the reason I love to go to church and sing the hymns, while he’d rather stay home and work in the shop.  

On another note:  a Facebook friend commented on something I recently posted, telling me, “You always seem so happy.”  

That’s a deliberate choice.  I’ve been on Facebook enough to realize what a downer it is to see somebody always looking for sympathy or talking about every little problem they have.  How can I act like I’m dying “every time I have a fart crossways” as my mother-in-law used to say, when I have friends going through real tragedies who never complain or beg for sympathy?  I believe I’m as happy as most, and happier than many, but I am sometimes depressed.  I have aches and pains.  I simply don’t think it would serve any purpose to go to social media and talk about it.  

All in all, I wouldn’t change anything about my upbringing.  I don’t mind being the free spirit, the hippie element, the old crone, the hermit... whatever box you’d like to place me in, feel free, but don’t expect me to stay there.  

And now I’m going to go peel some potatoes.  Mashed potatoes and gravy will be really good with the short ribs I’m cooking for dinner.

God bless you, every one.


Adirondackcountrygal said...

Another enjoyable post. I think I will start writing about my childhood and just not put it on FB. Then I won't have to worry about "the dirty laundry"! I had a handful of friends in junior and senior high. I was what would be called a nerd. I didn't have any of the fashions of the day and I tended to dress more like a boy with jeans and flannel shirts. When I was a young adult, I even had a wallet in my back pocket.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It's important to like yourself. I don't think we can like others much at all if we don't first like ourselves.

The Feminine Energy said...

Did ya ever think.... perhaps all those city-dwellers were out-of-step with YOU?! Love, Andrea XOXOXO

Gigi said...

One day you will have to tell us how you and Cliff can to be :-)

Margaret said...

Thank you for answering my question, and it seems like it gave you some answers as well. Some people are natural loners and have the personalities and hobbies or interests to keep their interactions with other people to a minimum, while still being content. Patt was like that, as was Henry. As a teacher, I mostly enjoyed being around others(thankfully!) but did crave some alone time. I didn't and don't really care if I'm considered weird, although I probably did care when I was a teenager. I've gone from a more introverted bookish nerd to an outgoing middle aged bookish nerd! said...

I get it. I actually like my own company and love to read and go online. Though our lives are vastly different, I identify with you strongly.
Blessings, Penny