20 minutes of musings
My devilishly awesome 2 year old self, enjoying life as an only child
There is a certain hiding spot that is my childhood. It never had a definitive location, but it always had definitive characteristics. It would be cool, dark, and away from whatever noises I was trying to escape. At my house, it would be in my bedroom, directly behind my closed bedroom door. If it was a particularly nice day out, it would be on the third platform of the playset, in the shade of the “stink berry tree,” right above the long yellow slide. If it was a Tuesday or Sunday afternoon and I was at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, I could be found in the corner of the rec room, either on the cool, yellow and black checked floor or on one of grandma’s chairs she couldn’t bare to throw out. In the summer, if Grandpa had set it up on the side of the house, I could be found in the camper, sprawled out on the itchy polyester cushion that once served as a bed, hiding behind the zipped-shut windows. If I was in one of these spots, one thing was certain: I probably had a book with me. Usually, it was a Boxcar Children or Babysitter’s Club book, but sometimes I’d be adventurous and read an unknown book from the Bookmobile that came to our house, or from the shelf of science fiction books that I didn’t understand in my Aunt Barb’s old room in Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
I was always the oddball out growing up. I was the oldest of three kids, and the oldest of seven cousins until I was about eleven years old. Then the next round of cousins were born, and I became the built in babysitter. I could lie and say I always got along well with my brother and sister, but that didn’t happen until we had all experienced puberty. I am three years older than my brother, and five years older than my sister. I was always the super duper girly girl princess growing up. I insisted on always wearing big floppy bows or hats adorned with fake flowers or ribbons even if I was just sitting around in the house watching Power Rangers. Until my sister was born, it was just my brother and me. I would make him play pretend with me, and he was subjected to my constant diva bossing around. (Afterall, I had been an only child until he was born.) When my sister was born, my brother got a bit of leniency from me, as my sister was a lot more fun to dress up. (Plus, I thought it was weird that my brother’s underwear had a hole in it for him to pee from. Boys were weird to me.) My baby sis was someone to play with dolls, a reason point out all the frilly dresses I wanted her to wear, and the cute adorable baby sister all of my friends were jealous of.
As we got older, there was an obvious divide between my siblings and I. We would hold meeting of “The Cool Kids Club” and Broface and sis would pair off against me. Even though I was obviously in charge because I was oldest and smartest, they would outnumber me and refuse to listen. When we would go to family gatherings like Christmas and Easter, they would each have cousins their own age to play with; I was alone. I was stuck in this weird position of “not wanting to play with the babies” a la Angelica Pickles, but not being quite old enough to understand the conversations the adults were having or fit in with them.
As a result of this dichotomy, I found my escape in books. Everyone would jokingly call me the bookworm, and when my younger siblings and cousins wanted to know what I was doing, I would end up playing school and teaching them about my books. However, sometimes I just wanted to escape. That’s when I found the definitive hiding spots of my childhood: somewhere quiet, peaceful, away from the rest of the world, and the possessing the ability to let me hide in between pages of a book. Books were my childhood.