What I miss most about being a little girl is the world that I used to inhabit. Certainly, I lived in the Real World where I constantly worried that I had no friends, that my father wouldn’t join Rotary, that no one else had weiner schnitzel sandwiches for lunch (yes, really). I was not unhappy and Bad Things did not happen to me, but looking back, I see that I carried a strong and thick layer of uncertainty, anxiety and worry about my person.
But at the same time as I was generally anxious and nervous about things that may or may not eventuate, I lived a vivid life in my own head. Partly, this life was constructed around worlds from the books I had read. Lucy, Judy, Beth (or Amy, I could never quite decide), Peggy, Tom, Nicola were not so much my friends as extensions of my life.
But my inner life wasn’t just around books and novels, it was around the connections that you can only make when you’re a child. When you know enough to know that this plus this equals that and if there’s any gaps you just let your brain fill them in.
Of course, as a child I thought it was a secret world. One that no one knew about, one where no one else had ever been.
It’s hard negotiating this time as a parent. On the one hand, you need to teach them what is right, but on the other I don’t want him to lose his world. Minds and imaginations should not be told they’re wrong.
Yesterday, on our walk home from school, it became clear to me that my eldest boy thinks we live in America. As he laid the evidence before me, I could see exactly why he thought that way. And besides, the notion of nations and countries is not a simple concept given the fairly simple life he’s led. I suggested when we got home I could show him a map to help him see where we used to live and where we live now, to which he replied, ‘Well, Mum, someone already did, but before I believed them I wanted to proofread it with you.’
Wish he could be eight forever. And I wish I could’ve been too.