As I drove up the street yesterday, there was a small girl. She was about 5 or 6 years old and cute as a button. She waved at me as I drove past and I waved back. She put her hand over her mouth and giggled.
As a child, I went to visit my grandmother and aunt and uncle for a week each summer. They lived on a busy boulevard. The girl (whose name I cannot remember) who lived behind them and I would play frequently. One of the games that we played was to play in the front yard and when we saw a certain color of car we would stand and wave furiously to see if they would wave back. Many did, much to our delight. We would giggle, turn cartwheels, roll down the grassy front yard and do it all over again. Such a simple pleasure. I can remember the smell of the grass, I can see the cars driving by and hear the giggles. At night we would catch lightening bugs in a jar, much to the chagrin of my aunt, who said it was cruel. We would put leaves in the jar, a stick or two and punch holes in the lid so they could live forever. They never did, of course. But her early admonishments stay with me yet today. I don't catch them anymore and anything in a confined area bothers me.
Yesterday with camera in hand I went to the zoo. Never again! I always thought it was small when I visited as a child. It isn't. It is a lot of walking on asphalt, up hills with screaming kids all around. But I wanted to get a picture for my 2015 calendar, so camera in hand, I wandered through. I was watching the tiger and realized he was pacing. Just back and forth. Pacing. We have what is considered to be a "good" zoo. Natural habitat as much as possible. Gone are the cages. But you know, as I looked at the tiger I thought about the lightening bugs in a jar.
Last year on the road trip we went to a wild animal park. You drove through it and the animals had a lot more space to run around. That seemed different somehow. I guess the thing that bothered me was the tiger pacing. In a small area. No more zoo for me.
I did notice as I left that the parents and kids arriving were full of energy, laughing, riding the carousel. The further they got into the zoo, the crankier they became. Children wanting to be carried (I did also want to be carried), wanting food and drink along the way, parents cajoling them, promises of food at home that costs much less.
One time when visiting an amusement park a father could be heard to say "You WILL have a good time, damn it, now quit crying". Yup, memories!
As adults, we attempt to create happy memories for children in our lives. I certainly do with the road trip every summer. I wonder what memory will stand out for the three kids I drag along? Please kids, I do hope it will be something other than me backing into the hot tub with my camera.
What are your memories of childhood? I hope you have some really good ones.