One Thousand Words on Childish Pursuits

I saw a man searching for four leaf clovers today.

He was old and he was smoking, but he was searching for four leaf clovers.

It made me wonder why I never stop to hunt for good luck symbols.

I used to look for four leaf clovers when I was a kid. I don’t think I ever found one, but I looked. Now I don’t even bother.

There are a lot of things I used to do as a kid that I don’t do now. Good things.

I used to find purple clover blossoms, pull out the spikes and suck on the ends because they tasted like honey.

I wouldn’t dream of doing that now. I’d worry that the clover had been peed on by a dog, or had been covered in pesticides or acid rain.

I also loved finding bird feathers as a kid. I’d pick them up and run the tips across my cheeks. They were soft and it tickled. I wouldn’t dream of picking up an old feather now, much less touching them to my face. They are covered in germs, both from being on the bird and on the ground.

I wish I could still see the beauty in things like clover and bird feathers.

I also wish I still colored.

There is something soothing about crayons and coloring books. The smell, the colors, the textures. Admit it, you can imagine the smell of a box of crayons right now, can’t you?

I know that you’re supposed to encourage kids to color outside of the lines because it’s more creative, but part of the appeal of coloring to me is staying in the lines. I like established boundaries. You don’t have to think about where to color or make any decisions about what to draw. And you can still be creative by coloring the sky green and the grass blue. It’s all good.

And I miss making crafts, too. Macaroni necklaces, dioramas and egg carton caterpillars.

My mom worked at a newspaper and used to bring home the ends of the paper rolls. These great long pieces of paper were perfect for murals. When I was in second grade, we had to do a project on dinosaurs and I drew one on that paper. I thought it was life-size, but I’m guessing that it wasn’t. I was so proud of that big drawing.

Now when I get crafty, all I can see are the flaws. If it’s not perfect, I don’t like it.

My friends and I sometimes paint our own pottery or make jewelry. I enjoy the friendship and the conversation, but I never hold out any hope that I’ll like the end product. There is always a spot that didn’t get painted or a clasp that isn’t attached just right.

Car trips were more fun as a kid, before I had to worry about traffic and directions and parking.

I wish I stilled played car games. I loved the one where you look for the alphabet on the road signs. Or punch buggy.

Ok, I have to admit that I played punch buggy not too long ago. I was taking a road trip with my mother and kept seeing VW Bugs, so I started tapping her shoulder and yelling “punch buggy!” She got a little annoyed with me.

The other great thing about being in the car as a kid is that you could fall asleep. You felt secure and comfortable sitting in the back seat, dozing to the sounds of the adults talking.

Now I won’t fall asleep because I feel badly that the driver can’t take a nap. Or I worry that they may fall asleep too. And if I did manage to ignore the guilt and doze off, I’d wake up with stiff neck, sore arm and cramps in my legs.

Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to eat whatever you wanted to again? To have no worries about health and no discriminating taste?

When I was a kid, I didn’t like peanut butter or cereal like most children. But I loved canned soup and canned ravioli.

I looked at it in the store the other day and thought about how disgusting that ravioli is. What kind of meat filling doesn’t have to be refrigerated? But I ate it all the time. It was one of my favorite foods.

I’m not saying I want to be able to enjoy gross foods, but sometimes it would be fun to go back to a time where you didn’t have to think about the ingredients or sodium levels. If it tasted yummy, you ate it and who cared how it was made.

Of course, there are some parts of being a kid that I wouldn’t want to repeat. Gym class and school bullies and skinned knees.

And I’ll never be nostalgic for sledding.

Our sledding hill when I was young was in back of the telephone company; a small, square, cement block building. One day when I was seven or eight, I slid down the hill and into the corner of the building. I hit my head and it started to bleed so decided to go home.

I vividly remember one of the neighborhood kids running after me to ask if he could use my sled since I was leaving. I’m standing there with blood dripping down the side of my head and he wants to use my plastic toboggan?

I went home and told my mom what had happened. She was nonchalant until she pulled off my snow hat and the blood gushed. I still have the scar and I never went to the top of that hill again.

Gory sledding story aside, I guess this post boils down to a longing to have no responsibilities again. Just for a short time. To have the freedom to look for four leaf clovers or draw a giant green dinosaur or play the alphabet game without worrying about what I should be doing instead.

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One thought on “One Thousand Words on Childish Pursuits

  1. Pingback: One Thousand Words on Head Injuries and Coffee | One Thousand Words Project

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