Tag: Childhood

Ten childish things that adults should do

This is a weird thought I had this morning as I stepped into a puddle on my way home from the dentist simply in order to make wet footprints. I’m in my 40s. I shouldn’t get pleasure from this, surely? But thinking about this, I realised that I seem to find pleasure in a whole variety of ‘childish’ activities (and indeed I’ve written about something similar before here). I would like to know whether this is unusual or do we all retain some our six-year-old self all our lives?

Here is my list of Ten Childish Things We Should All Do Now and Then.

  1. Step in a puddle to make footprints. Of course this should go without saying but I thought I’d say it anyway. I urge you, dear reader, to do this. It is quite good fun. Even better: jump in a puddle, as hard as you can.

    Love doing this.

    Hours of fun.

  2. Walk on fresh snow. I still love to do this. There’s something about freshly landed snow that screams ‘put your stamp on me’.
  3. Pretend to be royalty. When I was a child I would often play out a scenario in my head that I was really a princess and I’d been adopted by ordinary people who had jobs and and who worried about money. My brother and my sister, as annoying as they were, weren’t of the same blood as me and at the time I found that most reassuring. My real mum and dad, the Queen and King of an exotic tiny European country, were just waiting to find me. I still enjoy pretending that I am really a lost princess. What’s the harm in it?

    My real mum? Well only in my childhood fantasy

    My real mum? Well only in my childhood fantasy.

  4. Play in the bath. As a child, one of my favourite places to be was in the bath. I was the land, the water was the sea. Or the bubbles were patterns. Or perhaps I was Cleopatra bathing in milk? I might be lost at sea looking for my desert island (I had a vivid imagination). I still sometimes imagine these things in my head when I’m bored in the bath (yet another reason why baths are better than showers).
  5. Run when not particularly late. Walking is boring. I like to run. I sometimes run to school to pick up the children. I run to the shop. I run up the stairs. I run down corridors. Walking is so boring.
  6. Cycle through a puddle with legs up high. Yes, I’m guilty of doing this from time to time. I love it.
  7. Draw on a steamed-up window. I do this a lot. The children get blamed for it. Why is it always assumed that it is the children who draw on steamed-up windows? Why can’t adults do it too?

    Vanilla Graffiti

    Vanilla Graffiti

  8. Pick at wood-chip wallpaper. This isn’t something I get the chance to do very often. I wish I did. I used to love doing this as a child and I am sure that I would find this deeply pleasurable as an adult as well. Sadly, wood-chip paper is hard to find these days.
  9. Blow bubbles into a drink. This is one of my favourites. This was regarded as the height of rudeness as a child so as an adult, the pleasure is deep.

    Blow those bubbles.

    Blow those bubbles.

  10. Burp the alphabet. Go on, give it a try. If number nine was rude, this one was evictable. I could add a few other bodily activities but the list will be too large and there are a few! Should I admit to a desire to bottle my botty burps? Perhaps not.

 

Doesn’t everyone iron on the cooker?

The other evening as I was drying my hair with a hairdryer I had a childhood memory. When I was a child, one’s hair was dried by lying in front of the gas fire first on one side, then on the other, and finally, on one’s back. It was always much more pleasurable to dry one’s hair on the one side (i.e. the side which enabled you to see the TV clearly) than it was to dry it on the other side (facing the sofa) or the back (facing the wall). I grew up thinking that everyone (at least in the UK) dried their hair like this after the Sunday-night bath. I can still remember the smell of burning hair and burning nightie and the sensation of hot nightie against cool, wet back.

My hair dryer

My hair dryer

However, as I grew older I realised that, some people at least, used these things called hair dryers to dry their hair. Other people just let their hair dry naturally. Both seemed so odd.

What I should have been using

What I should have been using

My weird thought is this: there are certain habits or behaviours that we grow up with that we assume to be ‘normal’ and we go through a period of disillusionment when we discover that they aren’t normal. I have a friend, and I can’t now remember which friend (hopefully someone who will read this blog and say ‘that’s me!’), who grew up with a fridge in their bedroom. They reported to me a few years ago that as a child they expected everyone to have a fridge in their bedroom. They felt quite shocked and upset when they discovered that this wasn’t normal behaviour.

I also grew up believing that everyone ironed their clothes on a towel on a floor (or on the cooker hob, also on a towel) as that is what my mum did. At university I discovered that there were these things called ironing boards. What an amazing invention!

What is this contraption for?

What is this contraption for?

I find it interesting that when you live with someone for the first time, these odd family quirks have to live together too and you are introduced to a whole host of weird and wonderful ideas. One example I can think of is that my husband has a collection of cloth hankies. I had never encountered such an indulgence before I met him. I grew up wiping my nose on toilet paper. I thought that was normal. However, here was a man (younger than 85) who used real material for his nose wiping needs. It still bothers me that he wipes his nose on cotton and not toilet paper or kitchen towel. It just doesn’t seem right.

My nose is not posh enough to blow on this

My nose is not posh enough to blow on this

I wonder what family quirks my children will discover one day to be eccentricities rather than the norm. A few years ago, one of my children expressed surprise to me after going to a friend’s house for tea at discovering that not all mummies painted pictures.

They will probably grow up thinking that everyone has ‘milk and a biscuit’ in the middle of the morning. This is something they still ask for. This originated out of a mid-morning feed when they were babies and has stayed with us. They also still request ‘milk and yoghurt’ before bed. This was a habit I adopted to keep number one son going until morning as he was a hungry baby. He’s eleven now and he still has milk and a yoghurt before bed. Will he go to university and wonder why nobody else has a glass of milk before bed, along with a petits filous?

My children have one of these every night

My children have one of these every night

At least we don’t keep a fridge in his bedroom (for those petits filous). Although, thinking about it now, that’s not a bad idea.

Proust was a very wise man

This is the weird thought (not that weird) that I had after finding something in a souvenir shop in New Quay today.

I saw an object in a shop there and was immediately taken back to a time in my childhood,. As I gazed at the object, flooded by a memory, I could almost sense that Proust’s ghost was watching me (his most famous literary creation was taken back to his childhood after eating some mandeleine cake).

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me…. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? … And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea (Proust, In Search of Lost Time)

Yummy orange cake

Yummy orange cake

I have no conscious memory of owning this object, which is a gathering of coloured stones with eyes on a bigger stone in front of a stick which reads ‘rock concert’. But upon seeing it I knew straight away that I had bought it over thirty years ago with my hard-earned holiday money and treasured it. I knew this to be true even though I no longer have this object now and obviously hadn’t thought about it for decades. I have no solid evidence that this memory is real (I need to ask my mum if she remembers). But I knew, I just knew, as I stood there in that shop today that I had owned an almost identical rock as this.

Rock concert - get it?

Rock concert – get it?

So I took a photo of this object and showed it to my husband later back on the beach. He immediately asked: ‘Why didn’t you buy it?’ I hadn’t intended to buy it. What need did I have for a tacky ‘thing’ made from pebbles? But as soon as he had planted that idea in my mind, I knew that I had to have it. I had to go back to the shop and part with £2.99. To me, as an adult, that isn’t much money. To me, as a child, the equivalent value would have been a lot of money. So I had to have it. It was fate. It was fate that we went to New Quay today. It was fate that I decided to go for a wonder around the shops by myself. It was fate that I saw this curious object and was reminded of my childhood. So I decided that I would be going against the gods if I didn’t go back and buy it. So I did.

I think I felt that I had to have it so that that feeling of being flooded with happy childhood memories would happen again, every time I looked at the object.

Proust remembering his childhood

Proust remembering his childhood

As I parted with £2.99, Proust smiled.