Now that vacation has ended and I am back at work, I find it difficult at night to have the energy to write. Sometimes I wish I could stay at home and write every day, but other times, and most times, I really love my job and what I’m doing, and blogging would be more like something I would do one day on career break, or long service leave.
That being said, I was sitting on the verandah for a good few hours yesterday, reminiscing on my childhood memories. It is amazing firstly, how I can spend so much time sitting in one spot at any one given time, and secondly, that I saw the images of my past so vividly. It also reminded me of another matter that crossed my path at work this week, and helped me to elaborate a little (to myself of course!) at how different the world has become in the space of a few years. Let me tell you all how.
My fondest and most rich memories are of when I was a child. I had an amazing childhood, amazing family, amazing parents and friends. I guess compared to some I am considered lucky, but to me having all this amazingness around was just so normal, so when I started maturing and growing and hearing of people that didn’t have those things, I became aware of how fortunate I really was.
When I was a kid:
- The kids in the neighbourhood and I would play outside all day. From the moment the sun came up until the moment the sun went down, we were outside, in the park, playing hide and seek, or throwing the ball around or doing whatever it was that our vivid imaginations led us to do. We had no fear; we had no worries. As dusk approached and the wind changed, beautiful aromas and smells of freshly cooked dinner wafted from our mothers kitchens and we would all go home, one by one, exhausted but feeling like we had just conquered the world.
- Weekends seemed so much longer. So much could be fit into a weekend, and things took longer to do. Visiting family friends who had kids the same ages as myself and my sister would often be for an entire afternoon or day. Our parents came to Australia together and so had history, and naturally when we were born we all became friends. But it was amazing how much, as children, we could fit into the day, how many games we played, how many of our favorite songs we listened to, how many pictures we drew. Even then, as midnight approached, as our parents eyes grew weary, we still hadn’t had enough. We still wanted to play, we still wanted to be together. That was probably the only possible time the weekend moved quickly – when we had to say goodbye to our friends.
- My cousins and I used to play hide and seek with the neighbourhood kids in their area. I loved it because it was flat, and lots of small courts and neighbours that knew each other well meant we had a bigger array of hiding spaces, and places we could sneak through. We climbed trees like monkeys, and only ran home when we heard my Aunty call us in to eat. We would save our couple of dollars which was huge money back then, and walk to the milkbar to buy lollies and hot chips. Not only did we feel as if our lives were rich, but they really were. We had each other – and we were closer than anyone in the world. We felt as if we were always on a secret mission doing something important, and one day we would be able to translate it to the older people.
- My cousins and I often stayed at grandma’s during school holidays. This is our fondest memory. Our grandma would make us fresh crepes with homemade plum jam, cheese pita (which is a Yugoslav delicacy), fresh bread and speck and grilled paprika and csabai, homemade chicken soup. My grandma was an amazing cook; her food was so hearty and full of love. As children we probably didn’t appreciate grandma’s cooking as much as we do now that she is much older and can’t cook for herself. We used to play so many games – our imaginations were endless. We either played aeroplanes (which included us rearranging the kitchen so that chairs were sat either side of the table facing in one direction, two of us would be passengers and the other a stewardess), or we played houses (where each of us got a segment of grandma’s house and that was our house and we would visit each other), or we would go to the park and spend hours and hours on the swings and the whirly twirly and the slide, or we would play pirate ships and go into my grandfather’s room and cover his table with a big blanket and then hide underneath it, pretending we were pirates. One time, when we were much younger, my grandfather was celebrating his Saint and held a party (which is part of Serbian Orthodox culture) and we decided we would make a dance and show. Reflecting back on it now we realise how absolutely ludicrous we must have looked, but we thought we did the coolest thing! After that, guests were drinking and eating and having a jolly time (as you normally do at a party!) and so my cousins and I snuck underneath the table and swapped people’s shoes. The most memorable was a friend of grandpa’s being given a pair of different coloured high heeled shoes and what”s worse, he went home with them! The next day people called grandpa asking about what happened to their shoes, and it wasn’t until our parents arrived that they found out it was us! Grandma’s house had everything; it has our childhood soul.
- I was not afraid of bugs, spiders, insects or running through long grass! I would spend hours and hours outside in the backyard. It seemed so big, and even though I knew every knook and cranny in the yard I always found soemthing new. My parents had a vegie patch, and I learnt the value of original, organic and free range food from very young. It’s probably why I strive now so much to have that kind of life again, and living on a hobby farm definately allows for that dream to unfold.
- I didn’t need toys to stay amused. I had a dog, Pancho, and my cat Blackie (cos she was black and white) and my life was complete (until my sister came along!). None of this DS, Nintendo, Gameboy rubbish – pure, good old fashioned child with an enormous imagination.
- I used to get a bag full of lollies for $1. That was the best spent $1 ever!
I guess where it staggers me is the way in which childhoods of before have changed to childhoods of today. My nieces and nephews will have entirely different relationships with the world around them. As children, we didn’t need elaborate toys or gaming consoles, we didn’t play online games because the Internet wasn’t even around. We read books, we played outside with no fear of being kidnapped or hurt or anything else. We listened to our parents and didn’t question their authority or role in our lives. Too often, children are given too many choices, and particularly, given the opportunity to make a choice. I don’t think that allowing a child this option is right, nor do I understand how a child can comprehend that.
I work in an environment that exposes me to a lot of crime, and those that deal with crime. I am exposed to transcribing interviews with particular people and children that are often used in court for matters that involve the abuse of children. When I listen to that audio and have to type it word for word, and hear the way the questions are asked so that a child can understand the question, I no doubt believe that children should not be allowed to make important choices. Many of them cannot comrehend what has even occured to them, only that it’s not right or nice, and made them feel uncomfortable and scared. So how people can give children the ability to choose continues to astound me, because I have seen and heard from my own experiences through work, that their minds are just not developed to undertake that task with 100% certainty.
Maybe all this is changing due to the natural progression of the industrial complex and globalisation. It definately does have a significant role to play, but interestingly enough it has shaped the way entire societies and communities have changed. If so much has changed in twenty years, then I wonder what will continue to change and be reflected upon in twenty years to come. What continues to interest me though, is the way in which we, as a society, community, family or other such citizen of the world have adapted to these changes, and become almost resilient with them. Things that were once considered immoral, uncouth, unethical or even down right rude, are becoming more and more common. Take for example the instance where thank-you cards and letters were written to people follwing attendance at a wedding or due to the giving of a gift. Now this ‘process’ can be completed entirely online using social media networks and sites. Or the way in which books are read – or not read. Ebook readers and ebooks have become a huge success, and whilst I applaud such an innovative use of technology, I can’t help but be romanced by the smell of a new book, with it’s crisp pages and chippings of paper dust as it’s just come off the printing press. I don’t know….it’s difficult to not be nostalgic, and it’s difficult to not enjoy the spoils of our progression. Were it not for ebook readers that had the capacity to store hundreds and hundreds of books, we’d have to read books one by one, and carry them around heavy in our handbags. If it wasn’t for social media sites, real time communication and interaction with our distant friends and family would be almost entirely impossible. Now we are given the opportunity to experience their lives with them, as if we’ve been physically there the entire time.
So whilst I do miss and reminisce the days when I was a child, I can’t help but applaud the general progression of the industrialised world as it is. I don’t agree entirely with it; with the use of preservatives in foods, with self medicating, with large corporations being ruling monopolies in various industries, and so on and so forth…the list would be endless, and then I’d have to write about why I wrote a list about it! But I guess my point is that the children of this generation will have an entirely different relationship with the world and their world view than I did, and whilst I understand that this is as a combined result of their surroundings and their learned behaviours, I feel somewhat sad for them that they didn’t get to see the world the way I saw it, and the way that I see it now.